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

 

Connective Tissues in Federal Disability Claims

In biology, they are often discussed in contrast to epithelial tissues, which are closely packed cells for dense, often protective purposes.  As the attribution implies, the primary purpose of such tissues is to connect other tissues or organs, for the coordinated and compound workings of the entirety of the organic system.

It is that very connection which allows for the coordination of the whole, and while each individual organ or aggregate of cells may be vital to the life of the entity, without the connective tissues, such individual significance would never reach a level of integral compound complexity of a working singularity.  Individual significance, without the connective support, would result in independent value; and it is the dependency of individual values which in their “togetherness” work to constitute an integrated system.

We can learn much from biology.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the Disability, Reconsideration & Appeals Division (U.S. Office of Personnel Management), whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, it is important to always recognize the connective tissues which must be carefully recognized and evaluated for their integrated purposes.  For, in the end, that is what the reviewing agency of all Federal Disability Retirement applications — the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, or OPM — does. OPM reviews and evaluates all Federal Disability Retirement applications with a particular view towards analyzing the connective tissues, for integration, consistency and lack of contradiction.

While each “organ” of a CSRS or FERS Disability Retirement application may be vital to the entirety of the administrative process, it is precisely the connective tissues which, if diseased, will determine the viability of the working whole.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Identifying the Right Bridge to Reach Your Destination: Federal Employee Disability Retirement

When considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, the natural inclination is to ask the seemingly primary question of: Does medical condition-X qualify as a disability? But such a question is in actuality secondary; it is the reverse-order and counterintuitive process which is often confusing for the Federal and Postal Worker who is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

The primary question, making the previously-stated questions secondary, is to ask: Does medical condition-X prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job?  By inverting the primary-secondary sequence, one can then attain a better level of understanding as to the administrative process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Further, such a switch in sequence of questions-to-answers allows for an important paradigm shift.  For, in the very asking of the proper question, one can reach a level of understanding to such a stage of comprehension that the question almost answers itself.

Medical conditions in and of themselves do not necessarily qualify the Federal or Postal Worker who is otherwise age or service-eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits; it is the nexus which must be established between one’s position and the medical conditions one suffers from.  It is the crossing of that bridge which will reveal the extent of success or failure in attempting to go down this path; but first, the Federal or Postal Worker must correctly identify which bridge to cross, before even starting the long and arduous trek of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

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

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Pruning Mechanism

It is one of life’s anomalies that plants flourish and thrive with targeted pruning; too much dismembering, and the sap of life can wither; too little, and the nutrients required for new growth will be diverted to wasted areas of decay, thereby allowing for greater susceptibility to disease. As animals cannot regenerate new appendages (with some variable exceptions), so pruning of limbs is not recommended. But the term itself can imply metaphorical contents — of leaving behind and cutting off ties which harm; of terminating associations which contribute to the decline of one’s health.

The complexity of medical conditions will often bring to the fore questions of causation and exacerbations; and while stress is an inherent factor in almost every employment arena, and further, is not normally recommended in a Federal Disability Retirement application to be focused upon (see previous articles on work-place stress resulting in “situational disabilities“, which can defeat a Federal Disability Retirement application), nevertheless, it is an issue which any Federal or Postal employee contemplating preparing, formulating and filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, should consider carefully, seriously, and with deliberate intent.

It is ultimately the U.S. Office of Personnel Management which reviews, approves or denies all Federal Disability Retirement applications for Federal and Postal employees under FERS or CSRS; thus, unless one works for OPM, it is an agency separate from one’s own employing agency.

It is that agency — one’s own — which always must be considered for “pruning”. For, while the central issue in all Federal Disability Retirement applications is the nexus, or “bridge”, between one’s medical condition and the essential elements of one’s job; still, it is often a prudent thought to consider that “burning” one’s bridge is the penultimate act leading to a fruitful “pruning” — a mechanism sought in a metaphorical manner, to redirect life’s nutrients into more productive tissues for the future.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire