Federal Disability Retirement Claims: Methodological approach

We hear about the various approaches — of “quantitative analysis”; of systems created for a specific outcome-based determination; of numeric, qualitative, cost-benefits balancing, etc.; and all the while, we presume that there is a “methodological” underpinning that girds the analytical viewpoint, thereby systematizing the approach into a coherent consistency in order to limit and restrict human error.

That is the conundrum, however, is it not?  It is humans attempting to implement a methodological analysis that will expunge the very essence of humanity, by humans engaging in activities to erase that which makes humans for being so human — imperfection.

Analytical approaches without a preordained methodology presumes a flighty, ad hoc approach that fails to rise to the level of a vaunted “science”; yet, if a paradigm of a “methodology” is created and implemented by an imperfect being, how can it ever attain the level of mistake-free perfection that a “methodology” can promise?  The fact is, we are trained to be imperfect, but strive for the vanity of perfection in order to appease the gods of our own fears.

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, it is important to understand that there is, indeed, a “methodological approach” in putting together an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

One can enter into the administrative process by an “ad hoc” approach — by means of a proverbial “chicken with its head cut off” engagement and running about filling out this form, asking for that form, and bundling together whatever medical records one can obtain; but the better way is to have a “tried and tested” methodological approach to the entire bureaucratic morass.

Yes, human beings are imperfect; yes, the medical condition itself necessitates the preparation, formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to OPM; and, yes, the entire administrative process of such a bureaucratic procedure is maddening, disheartening and often chaotic.

However, from the ashes of such chaos, it is best to engage in the confusion and chaotic morass by sifting through the difficulties with a “methodological approach”, and to do so, consultation with an experienced attorney is likely the first best step — thus revealing the first step in the methodological approach in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Lawyer Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Hypotheticals

Why do lawyers, above most other professions, utilize the tool of hypotheticals?  What is their evidentiary value, and in what way does it help to advance the cause of one’s case?

Say, for instance, you need an architect or an engineer (yes, yes, the humor here is that in speaking about hypotheticals, we are preparing to present one), would you be at all impressed if, after describing with precision the type of product you desire to have built, or in requesting a blueprint of a model house you are interested in, the architect or the engineer presents you with a hypothetical?

What, first of all, is a ‘hypothetical’?  It is, first and foremost, a proposition of non-existence, but with components of reality that may or may not have occurred or existed except in partial or disparate forms, delineated in an attempt to make or prove a point.  It is the tool of the attorney, just as the pencil and the blueprint are the resources of the architect, and the mathematical calculations the reliance of the engineer.  Often, it is used by means of analogical content to prove a point and to enhance the evidence gathered.

Take, for example, the lawyer who defended a bank robber.  He meets his client for the first time, and the criminal defense lawyer puts up a hand in order to stop his client from speaking, and says the following: “Now, take the following hypothetical, Mr. Dillinger: A man walks into a bank and hands a note to the teller that says, ‘Give me everything in your drawers.’  Now, that man was subsequently arrested.  No cash was ever exchanged; no weapon was ever found.  The question, then, is: What was meant by the words?  Only you know.  If, by way of a hypothetical, the man meant to obtain the contents of the teller’s drawer, it might mean 10 years in prison.  If, on the other hand, the note meant to be a lewd proposal about the teller’s anatomy beneath her undergarments, it would likely be a misdemeanor offense.  Now, Mr. Dillinger, which is it?”

Now, aside from some who would view such a presentation as somewhat unethical for “suggesting”, on the part of the lawyer, which intended “meaning” the defendant possessed at the time the note was passed, such a hypothetical is intended to denote the importance of hypotheticals within the purview of “the law”.  Hypotheticals allow for individuals to see the differences in paradigms or examples; it allows for options by way of analogy.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where 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, hypotheticals have quite likely become like unicorns and gnomes: no longer a figment of one’s imagination, but a reality that must be faced within a surreal universe of a Federal Agency or the Postal Service that fails to possess the humanity necessary in dealing with a person with failing health.

Words of platitudes are often spoken; and, perhaps, here and there, you come across someone at your agency that actually cares.  But for the most part, such “caring” amounts to no more of a reality than mere hypotheticals; and when that realization comes about that the clash between hypotheticals and reality must be confronted, it is time to get down to the “nuts and bolts” and prepare, formulate and file 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.

And, as an aside, you may be asking, What was Mr. Dillinger’s response to the lawyer’s hypothetical? He punched the lawyer in the mouth, stood up and said, “Jeez, I ain’t no pervert!  Of course I wanted the money!”

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

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

 

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