OPM Medical Retirement Legal Representation: Owing and debt

Why must advancement always entail greater complexity?  Or, is that merely the concurrent and natural evolution of linguistic modes of communication?  Do words ascribed and the antiquated, outdated philosophical concept of language as a “correspondence” between the objective world and the language games one plays (yes, an admixture of Bertrand Russell’s criticism and Wittgenstein’s deconstructionism combined) naturally result in the bungled world of complications as a mere afterthought to sophistication and the rise of a civilization?

The simplicity of a stone-age civilization, where pursuance of food and the bare necessities to survive – is that what can be termed a “simple” life, and therefore a primitive, less advanced (or none at all) civilization?  Does the capacity to invent, discover and apply technology by definition establish that a collective group of people has “advanced”, and is the advancement a reflection of greater complexity, or is complexity the hallmark of such advancement?  Can you have an “advanced” society and yet maintain a level of simplicity such that the pinnacle of such advancement is better defined by the simplicity of living standards?

And where does sophistication, culture and refinement of the arts fit in?  Does the fact that exchange of monetary currency, the involvement of extending credit and the concomitant issues of owing and debt necessarily arise in a complex society?  When did the concept of “owing” and the concurrent idea of a “debt” owed come into the daily consciousness of an individual, a society, a civilization?  And, was it first tied to the idea of money, then to an analogy about “favors”, obligations, return of bartered goods – or was the very idea of owing or being obligated to, and having a debt to be repaid, separate and apart from the exchange of currency?  We owe a “debt of gratitude”, and a sense of “owing” that which we borrowed, or the debt we are in, and there is the “debt ceiling” and bills yet to be paid, as well as a “debt of loyalty” – do these all arise from the origin of bartering and money-lending?

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 the Federal employee’s capacity and ability to continue in the career of one’s choice, there is often a sense of “owing” the Federal Agency or the Postal service “something” – one’s time, one’s gratitude, one’s commitment, etc.; and that the “debt” has to somehow be repaid by killing one’s self to the enslavement of work.

It is a false idea one clings to.  The “owing” one must first be concerned with is the debt to one’s self, first – of health, future orientation and obligations to a family one has brought into this world.  Don’t confuse concepts; and be aware of metaphors that have evolved from civilization’s greater complexity where advancement does not always mean greater complexity of confounding confusions.


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.


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.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire