Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Fair Games

It depends upon how you read the concept, which word or syllable you place the accent or emphasis upon, doesn’t it?

In one sense of the concept, it has to do with games found at the county or state Fairs — you know, where cotton candy is sold and prizes are awarded for the largest potato grown or the fattest pig shown.  In another sense, it is in contrast to its opposite — of games where you have a good chance because rules are imposed and upheld, as opposed to “unfair” games where the proverbial deck is stacks against you.  It is in this second sense of the term that we apply.

Fairness itself is a difficult concept, precisely because of its malleability.  One concept of fairness is an arguable delineation based upon rules, perspectives, and even perhaps of cultural backgrounds.  Rules themselves can be attacked, and are “fair game” when it comes to disputatious boundaries, where there are essentially none to circumvent.

You can argue that such-and-such a call was unfair, and that obnoxious fan sitting next to you might counter, “But that’s within the rules of the game,” and you might then counter to the counter, “Then the game is rigged and the rules are unfair!”  What would be the counter-answer to the counter of the counter?  Perhaps, to say: “Listen, buddy, I don’t make up the rules.  It’s fair by definition if everyone who plays the game has to play by the same rules.”  Is that the silencer — the conversation-stopper — that cannot be argued against?

But what if everyone theoretically has to “play by the rules of the game”, but the rules are administered in a lopsided manner?  Is that what makes the game “unfair”?  Isn’t that what fans the world over complain about when the umpire, for example, sets the “strike zone” (or in other contexts, the “foul zone” or some such similar animal) too wide for some pitchers and too narrow for others?

Or, wasn’t there something like the “Jordan Rule” where a certain player was allowed to take an “extra step” (or two or three, for that matter) and no “traveling violation” was called, because the beauty of his fluid movements surpassed and transcended any “rules” that might disrupt the mesmerizing effect of such human defiance of gravity right before our eyes?  Could you imagine what an uproar that would have caused, where the player-in-question flies through the air with such acrobatic display of gravity-defying beauty, slam-dunks the ball to the rising wave of appreciative fans, and a whistle is blown — and the basket is disallowed?

That awkward motion that the referee engages in — you know, where both hands are balled up into a fist and made into a circular motion, indicating that a traveling violation has occurred — and then pointing to the scoring table and telling them to subtract the 2-points just previously awarded…is it “fair”?  Should fairness sometimes be overlooked when beauty-in-mid-flight entertains us to such ecstatic delights?

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 worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, life often begins to appear as if “fairness” is no longer an applicable rule — for, is it “fair” that one’s health has deteriorated despite doing everything to take care of it?  Is it “fair” that others seem to have lived a life of excess but seem not to be impacted at all by the abundance of maltreatment?  Is it “fair” that others appear to be receiving favoritism of treatment, while your Federal Agency or the Postal Service appears to be targeting you for every minor infraction of the “rules”?

Life, in general, is unfair, and when a Federal or Postal worker seems to be the target of unfair treatment because of a progressively deteriorating medical condition, it may well be time to prepare, formulate and file 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.

Life is often unfair in general; but when it comes to applying and enforcing “the Law”, it is best to consult with an experienced attorney, especially when seeking to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM.  And like the “Jordan Rule” concerning extra-rule-violation treatment, it is best to make sure that your attorney makes the Rules of the Game enforced — and fair.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Deviating and adapting

How does one deviate or adapt, if one is approaching something anew?

Such concepts as modifying or altering a methodology presumes that one has encountered the process before, and thus it stands to reason that a person who has never previously experienced something before can hardly be expected to provide new insights when the experience itself is new to the individual.  That is why we often refer to a person’s ability and capacity to “think on his or her feet” — meaning, to quickly encompass and adapt to new and fluid circumstances, despite a lack of familiarity with an onslaught of speedy changes.

Deviating, of course, can be a negative component, in that it may imply altering from a true-and-tested course of action, and unless one is certain of one’s confidence in a new path taken, there may ensue disastrous consequences when following a rebellious path that can lead to the unknown.  Many a trailblazer who knew not the way of the unbeaten path have perished by starvation or thirst.

On the other hand, we consider the capacity and ability of “adapting” to be a positive characteristic, in that it implies a characteristic of being able to respond to external circumstances that are changing, and requires a willingness to bend with the winds of change.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that 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 dual concept of deviating and adapting comes to the fore precisely because of the need to change — both on the Agency/Postal Service’s side, as well as from the perspective of the Federal or Postal employee.

For the Federal Agency or the Postal Service, the issue of deviating and adapting comes about in terms of “accommodation” — for, it is necessary for the Federal Agency and the Postal Service, by force of law, to “deviate” from the former ways of behaving, and to “adapt” to the medical conditions and changes that the Federal or Postal employee is undergoing.

From the viewpoint of the Federal or Postal employee, deviating and adapting may encompass a wide range of issues in terms of accommodations — whether the situation and conditions posed are temporary or permanent by nature; whether the medical conditions suffered are able to be accommodated at all, either temporarily or permanently; and whether attendance is an issue; of how much SL must be taken; of FMLA issues and extensions of LWOP beyond, etc.

In the end, deviating and adapting from the “norm” may not be possible, in which case 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, may become necessary.

For all Federal and Postal employees, what is important to remember is that suffering from a progressively deteriorating medical condition will require deviating and adapting, and that may include the need to have expert legal guidance by an attorney who has previously had the experience in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application so that any and all deviations and adaptations can be initiated from the perspective of previous experience, and not as a trailblazer off of the beaten path where getting lost in the complexities of Federal Disability Retirement Laws can lead to disastrous results.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation Federal Disability Retirement: Life puzzles

Depending upon the accent or inflection, the phrase can take on differing meanings.  If stated in a monosyllabic intonation, it can be a quiet declaration that the entirety of life is comprised of multiple puzzles in an inert, non-participatory manner.  The other way of “saying it”, is to pause between the two words in dramatic form, or even put a question mark at the end of the phrase, making the second word into an active verb and the noun of “Life” into a projectile that deliberately confounds and obfuscates.

In either form, we all recognize the truth underlying the sentiment: from birth to the continuum of living daily the challenges and encounters, it is always a constant struggle to try and maintain a semblance of rationality in a universe that continually creates flux and mayhem.  That was the philosophical strain that was always taught between the contrasting foundations of Parmenides and Heraclitus; of the wholeness and unity of Being as opposed to the constant flux and change that the world imposes.

Life puzzles us in so many ways, and the life puzzles that confront us daily confound and confuse.  See the subtle difference between the two ways of using the phrase?  In the first, it is in an “active” form, invoked as a verb (transitive or intransitive), whereas in the second, it is used as a noun.  We can get caught up in the grammatical form and usage of words, and in the process, get lost in the theoretical issues surrounding words, concepts and thought-constructs surrounding so many endless and peripheral issues; but the point of recognizing such subtle differences in the language we use is precisely to avoid and deconstruct the confusions we create within the language we use and misuse.

In either form of usage, it is important to state clearly how and for what purpose we are engaging in a formulation of words, thoughts, concepts and narrations.  We all carry narratives within ourselves that we must be ready, willing and able to use in order to describe, explain and delineate.  Those subtle differences that words create must always be untangled.

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, the importance of being able to distinguish between subtle forms of language usage cannot be over-emphasized.  For, Standard Form 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, is in and of itself a life puzzle that puzzles even the clearest of puzzling lifetimes; it is, moreover, a legal conundrum and a language puzzle that must be carefully reviewed, discerned, untangled and responded to by first recognizing that life does indeed involve puzzles, and such life puzzles must be approached in a non-puzzling way.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The work left undone

If life were merely a series of projects attended to, completed and accomplished with a declaration of unassailable certitude, like a period at the end of a sentence, the final paragraph of a novel, or silence upon a speaker’s conclusion; of a linear progression forever with movement on a horizontal graph; but it is not.

Instead, the circularity of life’s problems, of concerns regurgitated and revisited because unattended or otherwise reappearing, like the aunt who visits unannounced and the uncle exhaustively referred to as the “black sheep” of the family who appears at one’s doorstep with suitcase in hand; it is the boil behind the leg that keeps resurfacing, where the ill winds of unexpected vicissitudes keeping getting a second chance when redemption is unwanted and uncalled for, but nevertheless reappears for the salvation of one’s soul.

And, in some sense, it is a salvation, isn’t it?  For, if life were a series of work completed, never to be revisited but always working without need for repairs, we would realize the finite nature of the world and care not to attend to the past.  Instead, it is precisely the work left undone which compels us to keep plugging along, to rewrite the list by the items we crossed off and the ones we reordered; and it tells something about one, in the manner of how that list is reorganized.

Do the items yet remaining get full status at the top of the yellow pad in the new order of priorities, or does it remain again relegated to those unwanted and undesired categories, like the illegal immigrant somehow existing but forever ignored and unnoticed, without the full rights and privileges of the legitimized constructs arriving by arbitrary choice?  We were taught as children that the work left undone reflected a character flaw, but somehow, as we grew older, we realized that but for those things left asunder, the incompleteness of life would have no value, no meaning, and ultimately no reason to live for.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents him or her from performing all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the work left undone often presents a dilemma of sorts: the completion of one’s career becomes untenable; each day, one falls further and further behind; and of life’s lesson ingrained from childhood, that we should always finish the plate of food we are served, cannot be fulfilled, and so we ruminate and worry, fret and flounder in this farcical mythology of linear fiction.

For such Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, preparing 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, is the best alternative and only real solution available.  For, what we were never told is that the work left undone is merely in the eye of the beholder, as beauty depends upon the perspective of the audience and worth upon the buyer who desires; and that the Westerner’s world-view of a linear-based universe is certainly not shared by the Easterner who comprises the greater part of the infinite panoply, as represented by Shiva’s circle of fire.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Of true discourse and debate

A title immediately becomes “suspect” when the prefatory insertion of the word “true” is necessitated.  For, the noun which it is meant to enhance should be able to stand alone, without the reinforced embellishment that it is somehow more genuine than with the cousin’s uninvited presence.  It is like referring to a gemstone as a “valuable emerald” (what, one queries, would constitute an invaluable one?), or that such-and-such is a “very religious priest” (as opposed to an irreligious one?); and so to refer to the methodological approach of discourse and debate as one which is “true”, is to immediately undermine the very meaning of such a beginning.

But in modernity, where meaning has lost its efficacy and the elasticity of language has become epitomized by mindless You-Tube videos and an endless stream of nonsensical declarations preceded by a belief that, as pure relativism is rampant and presumed, it matters little who holds what opinion, the content of what is said, and not even the tone of intended consequences.

Once, in years past, there were “rules of engagement“, but three (3) foundational precepts needed to be followed in order to engage a valid discourse and debate.  First, that a distinction could be made between truth and falsity.  Second, that there existed a “superior” argument, based upon the combination of facts and rules of logical argumentation, in contradistinction to an “inferior” one.  But third — and this is the missing component in today’s endless shouting matches on television and radio waves — that each participant possessed a level of humility such that upon recognizing the inferiority of one’s one argument, a voluntary concession would be made, admitting to the superiority of the opponent’s argument.

While everyone recognizes and acknowledges the structural weakening of the first element, it is this last one which has devastated the entire process of today’s discourse and debate.  Of relevance to 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, is the extent, content and relevance of making a legal argument, and to what effectiveness and efficacy of substance, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with OPM.

In the end, bureaucracies are based upon the power of its established conduit of administrative complexity, and OPM is no different.  The U.S. Office of Personnel Management is made up of ultra-competent individuals who take their jobs very seriously, as well as with a mixture of some who are less than stellar.  That is the general make-up of all such organizations and governmental entities.

The structure of the right to appeal, however, is why a cogent discourse and debate must be prepared.  If the U.S. Office of Personnel Management denies a Federal Disability Retirement application twice (at the initial stage of the process, then again at the Reconsideration stage), then the Federal or Postal Disability Retirement applicant can file an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.  There, the Administrative Judge will hear all of the arguments made, afresh and anew, and consider the lack of constructive engagement and “weak points” of OPM’s arguments.  That is where all true discourse and debate must begin — before an audience with a listening ear.  And there we have that complementing and undesirable cousin again —  the “true” X, as opposed to an untrue one?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement Help: Caught in the world in-between

It is a purgatory of sorts; of the netherworld where twilight is a constancy of confusion, and when neither dawn nor dusk, between summer and winter, or of cognitive clarity and conundrums of confusion reach the pinnacle of an infinite maze.  Do we prefer clarity to confusion, or the light of dawn to a period “just before”, when consciousness of thought is suppressed or prevented by a darkness befalling thoughtful perspectives impeded by streams of dancing oracles upon a seamless stupor?

It is often uncertainty which tires the soul.  For, while wealth is preferable to destitution, and employment to its opposite, it is being caught “in-between” which engenders uncertainty and angst of future plans, and that is likened to a form of hell.

When a Federal employee or a U.S. Postal worker first learns of a medical condition — whether from an accident or injury on the job, or during a foray into uncharted recreational activities, it matters not for purposes of meeting the criteria for eligibility in a Federal Disability Retirement application submitted through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — the weariness of time and the toll of uncertainty is often worse than the failure of resolution encountered through therapy, medication regimens, surgical intervention and the long delays in recuperation and rehabilitation.

It is that “waiting” which becomes the agony of life, for the questioning and incessant pondering resulting therefrom haunts the soul:  What will the future hold?  What will my job do?  What are they planning?  The “what”, the “when” and the ultimate “why” becomes a reverberating echo of repetitive songs unwavering in their monotony of questions forever unanswered.  For, it is the unanswered question and the unstated discretion of silence which makes for waiting to be just another agony of life’s challenges.

To be caught in the world “in-between”, where future plans are delayed because the present remains in a muddle of soft mush, and when past actions fail to concretize a pathway for mapping current stability, is a state of existence which is tantamount to a purgatory of eternal uncertainty.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, it is thus important to take some action and begin the process of filing for Federal OPM Disability Retirement.  Wishful thinking will not make the medical condition go away; and while hope is always a basis for future planning, one often knows early on, within the core of one’s soul, whether the injury or medical condition which prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing the essential elements of one’s positional duties will resolve to an extent possible in order to return to full duty.

It is not knowing which is the true hell of existence; and to remain caught in the world in-between is often a choice — albeit a bad one — which is based not upon want of certainty, but enmeshed in the essence of human tragedy, when delay prevented that split-second decision that could have avoided the disaster.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: A Bridge Too Far

It is an indelible comment in history, marking a failure of calculations resulting in catastrophic consequences in the unwise attempt to quickly end the war.  As a tactical consideration, the attempt to outflank German defenses by securing key bridges in order to isolate the enemy, constituted a brilliant idea; in practical application, the unconfirmed attribution of the comment that the Allied Forces may be going “a bridge too far” proved to be the very downfall of such a bold military strategy.

M-2 Treadway Pontoon Bridge under construction across the Po River near Ostiglia (National Archives)

M-2 Treadway Pontoon Bridge under construction across the Po River near Ostiglia (National Archives)

Bridges represent vital and necessary supply lines between two entities, organizations, populations, and even ideas.  They allow for the free flow of supplies and communication; they constitute the “lifeline” between two otherwise disparate groups.  It is such a bridge, or “nexus”, which is similarly of great importance in all formulations of Federal Disability Retirement applications. For the Federal or Postal Worker who is preparing to submit a Federal Disability Retirement application through one’s agency (if still employed by the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, or otherwise separated but not more than 31 days since the effective date of separation), and ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, making sure that the “bridge” between one’s medical condition and the impact upon the positional duties of one’s job is a vital and necessary part of the process.

Like physical bridges which connect various populations, the nexus which brings together the Federal Disability Retirement application in a FERS or CSRS submission, will determine the very persuasiveness of one’s presentation to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  A bridge which is inadequate will fail to establish that the medical condition impacts one’s capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal position; and one which overextends itself may raise red flags of overreaching and exaggeration, undermined by a Supervisor’s Statement or the Agency’s contention that they have attempted to accommodate an individual to a legally viable degree.

While a 1-to-1 ratio of a medical condition-to-an-essential element is unnecessary in establishing eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits (see my multiple articles on the Henderson case), nevertheless, a linguistic construction of an adequate bridge between the two must be firmly established.

In the end, as with the Allied attempt to swiftly conclude the war resulted in the unnecessary cost of human lives, so one must take care in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, such that one does not go “a bridge too far” in making one’s case in a Federal Disability Retirement claim.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire