Federal Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Plato and Play-Doh

If a person says to another, “Have you used Play-Doh” and he answers, “Well, yes, but only as it applies to certain situations in my life.  Otherwise, I tend to rely upon Aristotle in a more pragmatic, scientific approach.”

Somewhat taken aback, the inquiring mind restates his position, saying, “No, no, I meant, have you played with Play-Doh?” Still not distinguishing between the inserted alternative of a consonant (the “D” in Play-Doh as opposed to the “t” in Plato), the responding individual states again, “Well, conceptually Plato is difficult to ‘play with’, as you state it, in that you have to first understand the conceptual paradigms he posits, then…” and the same person goes on to provide a full-fledged, half hour dissertation on the esoteric aspects of a Dead White Irrelevant Philosopher (otherwise known by the acronym, a “DWIP”).

At this point, frustrated, the inquisitive interrogator walks away, throwing his hands up in complete confusion and befuddlement.  What does one do?  How is the incommensurate encounter resolved?  Question: Does the fact that we “hold” in the base of our minds a certain spelling of a word make a difference as to intent and deliberative motive, when what we “speak” out into the objective world makes the receptor of the word, phrase or sentence interpret it as something different from that image that we behold in our minds?

How does one close the chasm between subjective thoughts and objective reality?  Do we approach it in a different way – and does the problem really remain in the subjective domain of the questioning individual insofar as he or she is unable to, incapable of, or otherwise unwilling to alter the originating course of his posited query?

In other words, shouldn’t the person have restated his conceptual query in the following manner: “Oh, I see.  You must have misunderstood.  I am talking about ‘Play-Doh’ – the clay-like substance that we all used to play with as children, and I thought I saw some when I visited your house the other day.”  To which the responder should appropriately state, “Ah, I see now.  You must excuse me. I am concurrently reading Plato’s Dialogues and I mistook your question to be referring to that.”

It is, then, the capacity to listen carefully, to recognize the response given, then to respond back appropriately and relevantly that often dissipates any compelling reason to become frustrated.

Similarly, for Federal and Postal employees who are attempting to respond to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s subsequent queries, or even in response to the Statement of Disability’s questions (SF 3112A) that need to be answered, the Federal or Postal employee who is attempting to formulate an effective Federal Disability Retirement application must take care in bridging that gap between subjective reality and objective communication.

There are many “tricks” to the “trade”, and OPM has probably dealt with them all; but the one trick that OPM cannot ultimately ignore, is the tricky web of legal precedents and prior MSPB and Federal Circuit Court decisions that compel them to act in ways that they cannot forego.  Legal argumentation is an art form that should not be ignored, and whether you are asking about Plato or Play-Doh, remember always to include in any Federal Disability Retirement application an effective legal argument that persuasively argues the legal precedents applicable in your case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The informed paradigm shift

Often, in ages older and generations beyond, it somehow becomes more difficult to be malleable and bend with the times, circumstances and turmoil of the day.  Does staid decay by refusal to adapt become a law of sorts for the aged?  Is it only youth that can change, or bring about pliable lives, or can the irrelevancy of old men and women be altered with an informed paradigm shift?

There is always a tautness and tension between generational divides; youth believes in beginning over again, to invigorate all plans and prospects of accomplishments – even of reinventing the wheel by trial and error.  And of the old, whose wisdom is never accessed, whether because of pride of youth of an arrogance fraught with silliness, it matters little.  The pendulum that swings between the two extremes, must by law of gravitational pull come to rest somewhere in the middle.

Paradigm shifts come about so infrequently, but there is often an underlying reason:  Just as wholesale genetic overhauls rarely strengthen a Darwinian foundation for survival, so the principles upon which one lives one’s life should not be abandoned after a lifetime of experiences in learned cynicism.  The fact is, it is always difficult to change when circumstances dictate.

Somehow, we believe ourselves to be the masters of our own destinies; and whether the fate of a generation is collectively overpowered by a consciousness of unfathomable mysteries, or each of us must singularly carry the burden of our future lives as isolated pockets without friendship or love, we like to think that we can control our future.  But there are events and circumstances beyond our control, transcending fault or personal responsibility; and the social contract of good citizenry – of abiding by the laws, following the normative constructs of societal acceptability, etc. – follows upon that path of accomplishment.

That is true of a medical condition – for, when a medical condition begins to impact major life activities of a person, an informed paradigm shift must by necessity occur.  It is not a matter of bad fate or unfortunate luck; it simply is, and the sooner one becomes “informed”, the better the paradigm shift for one’s future.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from just such a medical condition, where the medical condition or event begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, is may well be time to consider a paradigm shift.

Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, often requires just such a paradigm shift – a pliability in one’s thinking, and an alteration based upon the information (i.e., being “informed”) presented; and the next step once a cognitive paradigm shift has occurred, is to reach out in order to begin the administrative process of engaging the expertise needed in order to weather the trials of tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Tantum ergo

It is the incipit of the last two verses of a Medieval Latin hymn written by St. Thomas Aquinas.  Aquinas is best known for his inclusive osmosis by fiat of stretched logic to accommodate and force commensurability the texts of the ancients (i.e., Aristotle) within the essential boundaries of Christian theology.  His methodology in accomplishing this feat was to posit the weakest of straw man arguments, then to systematically appear to knock them down, and then to declare a forceful conclusion as if the ergo naturally and rationally followed.  That the conclusion is followed by verses subsequent, reflects how life works as well.

Sometimes, we mistake the “Hence” or the “Therefore,” and believe (wrongly) that nothing should follow.  But such conjunctive adverbs are often confused as if they denote answers to mathematical calculations.  Life rarely works in that manner, and it is entirely right that the tantum ergo should follow with additional discourses upon the beatific vision of the hymnal’s content.  Indeed, that is how we often and mistakenly live our lives – to accept with resignation that the declarative utterance, “Therefore, so great,” results in a quietude and silence of subsequent ceremony.  We wait upon it, and when it comes, we submit and concede.  Or, as in cases more common, it never comes, and thus do we surrender.

That is how Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are on the verge of preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, approach the impending suspicion of doom or failure; the Tantum ergo is declared by the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, and the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker accepts it as gospel truth, when in fact one should always recognize a countervailing principle of life:  a lie is a lie, is an untruth, is a lie, is a mis-statement of the law, is still a lie.

This author will not go so far as to say that Human Resource offices throughout the Federal Agencies systematically engage in disseminating falsehoods; perhaps, many merely relate the misinterpretations gained through osmosis of gossip; but, in any event, whether from a Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, the groundless surrender based upon a seemingly unassailable declaration that, “Therefore, so great” – whether referring to itself; whether in misstating the legal consequences of failed accommodations and the impact upon filing a Federal Disability Retirement application; of failing to inform the Federal or Postal employee of the rights of filing with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management – the Federal and Postal employee should always be cautious of taking as face value a declaration by the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service that single utterance of self worth:  “Therefore, so great.”

Especially when it is referring to itself; always, when ascribing motives unstated; and forever, when trying to undermine the Federal or Postal employee.  And as to the multiple verses which follow upon the Tantum ergo?  Mistake not:  there is always life after Federal Disability Retirement; and let not one be fooled into thinking otherwise.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Benefitting from doubt

What does it mean to “give” one the “benefit of doubt”?  Is it something that is granted automatically, or must one “earn it” through labor, circumstances or sheer luck?  What are the elements that lead to it, and why are some people accorded such grace while others are treated with impunity of disregard?

Take the following hypothetical:  You are at a party with friends and acquaintances; you sit with a number of people, and among them are a very close friend and confidante, as well as a mixture of those whom you somewhat dislike and otherwise consider an “undesirable” of sorts.  Well, let’s be honest – you despise especially this one person, and hope daily that that individual will die a horrible death in a slow, agony-filled manner.  You may even daydream of torture and mayhem, and how your laughter at such pleas for mercy fills your inner soul with delight so devious that it even frightens you to consider your own meanness and ferocity of unsympathetic attitude towards this one subhuman miscreant.

During a lively conversation – we shall call the “friend” X, and the one whom you wish the horrible and slow torture ending in death, Y – the former (X) says something that refers to you in an obscure and somewhat polysemic context.  You pause and consider; then dismiss it; for, as a friend, you give the benefit of the doubt that the utterance was said innocently and without any underlying meaning of harm or tincture of criticism.  Then, later, Y says something as well –  perhaps a reference to you, your group of people or your team effort in a project – and with obvious sarcasm, says, “Yeah, right”.

Now, had X said the same thing, it might have been taken as a joke; but when Y says it, you burn with inner turmoil and it is just a miracle upon a hair’s breath that you don’t throw the contents of your drink across the circular gathering, right at the individual’s face.  For Y, you failed to give the “benefit of the doubt”.  Why?  Is it because such granting of unconditional grace must necessarily be encircled by a context of relational warmth, and lack of it provides grounds for withdrawing or withholding any such unilateral mandate?  Is the spectrum of doubt’s convergence and emergence correlated to the level and extent of trust and friendship already established, or can it also occur in the vacuum of dealing with strangers?  As to the latter – dealing with strangers – we often coin as an act of the foolish or resulting from innocence and inexperience, don’t we?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers considering the option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through one’s Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, then on to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the issue of giving various individuals the “benefit of the doubt” will come up in numerous contexts and encounters – from discussing one’s medical issues with a Supervisor or Manager, to informing the Human Resource Department of one’s Federal agency that one intends upon filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits; and such encounters, by necessity, will often involve that nagging feeling as to whether to grant (or not) the benefit of the doubt.

In the end, “doubt” is more likened to an intuition – like the hair reflexively standing on the nape of one’s neck as a warning against impending danger – and has more to do with our Darwinian background than any societal conventions we deem applicable, and when dealing with Federal agencies, it is often prudent to not grant that ultimate grace of unilateral conformity – and, instead, to withhold giving the benefit of the doubt in almost all circumstances.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: The reef beneath the lagoon’s surface

In every worthwhile venture, there is the inherent danger of failure, and more often, of encounters with obstacles while enduring the process.  Some are apparent; others, hidden like the reef beneath the lagoon’s surface, of the jagged formations from sediments deposited and coagulated through time and shifting tectonics of unseen tidal forces.  That is the greatest of dangers – of a peaceful hue by a lagoon in its invitation on the surface of beauty; yet, beneath, lurking unknown and unrevealed, ready to tear the undersides of an unsuspecting boat as it enters into waters mysterious in its captivating picturesqueness.

If only life were always defined by mere appearances; we would never have to stop and reflect, pause and contemplate, or resist the urge to jump head first into shallow waters that seemingly reflected a pool of depth beyond mere sparkling mirrors of a sunlit afternoon.  But that is not how real life, in real time, amidst real people in a real world, works.

And we all know it; except, perhaps, for those shielded children who can actually have a childhood of carefree days and cool breezes in an afternoon where fields of rye still allow for the catcher to stand just at the edge of the cliff, and safely deposit any wayward souls who may wander to the danger’s end.  And like the unseen reef beneath the surface of the seemingly tranquil waters of the lapping waves softly upon the lagoon’s invitation, life embraces, often maims, and forever destroys if unaware and stepping without trepidation of purpose.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it is that unseen and unsuspected reef beneath the lagoon’s surface which must be considered before stepping into the still waters of the bureaucratic process.  For, while the waters may be quiet today, who knows what obstacles, dangers and dalliances of pitfalls will lurk about tomorrow?

The legal and administrative process of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application is replete with multiple unknown and unseen dangers; from legal issues arising in areas of accommodations, reassignment, varying manners of termination; to compiling the medical evidence such that it meets with the criteria for eligibility as set by statutes, case-law and OPM regulations; the compendium of the entire venture may appear simple.  It is anything but.

And like the reef beneath the tranquil surface of the sparkling lagoon, being invited to enter into those unknown waters may be tempting for the Federal or Postal worker who must file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits; but resist the initial temptation and consider being guided through those treacherous waters, lest the cautionary preface to dire consequences may fall upon the jagged reefs of life’s uncharted vicissitudes of disastrous results.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from OPM: Dreams, daydreams and nightmares

Of the first in this triplet trope, the concept can envision two distinct avenues:  in a state of somnolence, to have them with minimal control of appearance; or, in another sense, to possess aspirations beyond one’s station in life or current circumstances that may impute dissatisfaction.

The second in the series is somewhat connected to the second concept branching from the first; it is a moment of reflective escape, where the reality of “now” and the encounter with Being is temporarily averted and subsumed in a meditative silence of self-repose.  Some have the capacity to embrace and become lost in such quietude of an alternate universe, despite a clutter of noises or the distraction of tumult.  Then, some would counter that it is precisely in such moments that fleeing into a parallel universe of a mental cocoon is necessary in order to maintain one’s sanity in a world replete with a curiosity shop full of random violence.

And, of the third, we again branch into a duality with the proverbial fork in the road; for, such infamy of uncontrolled images and voices while in a sleeping slumber constitutes the primary definition; but, whether in metaphorical terms or engaging in trifling hyperbole, we attribute traumatic and frightful events by describing it precisely by the term at hand.

Dreams, daydreams and nightmares are all part of our daily lives, whether awake, half-aware, conscious or sub-conscious in multiple and mysterious modalities of living; but they serve a purpose which, whether explained away by psychologists, therapists, pseudo-intellectuals or just plain people of tremendous insights and uncanny foresights, they continue to remain the foundation for maintaining the sanity preserved within the insanity of the greater universe.

Without nightmares, how would the inner psyche expiate the images and sense datum we have involuntarily ingested?  Without daydreams, what would man hope for, live for, in circumstances of squalor and decadence?  And of dreams, how would the subconscious sift through the visual and information overload experienced daily and in voluminous onslaughts of quantitatively overwhelming constructs?

Or of the second branch, where aspirations and hope for a better tomorrow, though derailed by screams of destitution and unhinged by crying babies, drunken realities and unsavory circumstances, yet to dream for a better tomorrow is sometimes the only thread which separates the crumbling heart from a tinge of a fading smile.  It is precisely these that allows for man to wake up the next morning and seek a better tomorrow.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who find themselves with shattered dreams, escaping into a greater cauldron of daydreaming, or rustling in sleepless fits of nightmares unavailing, all because one’s career is on the proverbial “line” resulting from a medical condition which may cut short one’s dreams, daydreams and creating a chaos of nightmares, preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, may be the first step in the aspirational discourse needed to regain one’s equilibrium.

The importance of trifurcating between dreams, daydreams and nightmares is a prescient step towards recognizing that the reality of one’s present circumstances may be described as a “nightmare”, and perhaps those sleepless nights are filled with them; but in order for the Federal or Postal employee to dream of a better tomorrow, the leisure of daydreaming must be allowed, but always tempered by pragmatic steps which must be undertaken in the reality of day-to-day living, in order to reach a specific goal:  That of getting an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in order to reach that light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, which is neither defined by dreams, nor attained by daydreaming, and certainly not a nightmare to avoid.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Application: The effective legal argument

What makes for an effective legal argument?  It is a question often asked, and pondered by many.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the issue is often preceded by another question:  What makes for an effective Federal Disability Retirement application?  Must legal arguments be made at the outset, or will the mere gathering of relevant medical documentation itself suffice, without the burdensome addition of legal argumentation?

Is the introduction of law and reference to legal citation necessary, and does such necessity enhance efficacy and chances of success at every stage, or just in the later stages – i.e., before an Administrative Judge at the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, or before a panel of Judges in a Petition for Full Review (often referred to as a “PFR”), as well as before a panel of 3 Judges at the highest level of the process, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit?

Certainly, the process itself does not “mandate” a legal requirement for argumentation of law; yet, inherent in the system itself – or, because there are multiple legal opinions, precedents and statutory foundations which form the core of every Federal Disability Retirement application – it is a “good thing” to include legal precedents and foundational arguments in preparing and formulating one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.  Is it necessary?  Is it “absolutely” necessary?  Just as the insertion of more adjectives and adverbs do not enhance clarity of answers, so the question itself must be judged by the relative importance of omitting that which may not be required, but which may be helpful in increasing the statistical correlation to a successful outcome.

Law cannot ultimately be avoided, either in filing a Federal Disability Retirement application or other venues of justice and conflicts, anymore than one can drive down to the corner mart without having some nascent knowledge of the legal workings intermingled and intersecting with modern society.  For, in this complex society of compounding difficulties and systems of comingled conundrums, that which is not known or otherwise ignored, can indeed harm us.  Not being aware of the speed limit in traversing the short distance to the store can result in being stopped.  Not being aware of laws governing carrying or transporting of weapons can have even greater and dire consequences.

And, as all forms required to be filed in every Federal Disability Retirement application was and remains based upon statutes, regulations and precedent-setting opinions rendered by the Federal Courts or the Merit Systems Protection Board, so it is important in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application to have some elementary awareness of the relevant laws impacting upon the criteria governing Federal Disability Retirements.

Few things in life exist in a vacuum, and preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application is no different.  In any arena of law, laws matter.  That may sound somewhat like a trite opinion, and an irrelevant repetition of a self-evident truth, but it is meant to merely be a reminder, that as in all other areas of life and living, in the venue of legal matters, providing an effective legal argument is an essential factor in winning a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire