FERS Disability Retirement Benefits: Fooling ourselves

It takes extraordinary intelligence to play the fool, and an even greater cleverness to fool oneself; just read a few lines from Shakespeare’s King Lear, and the interaction between Lear and the Fool, and one realizes the extensive capacity of self-indulgence in the deception of man in his need to guard his own ego.

In fooling one’s self, does one fool others, as well?  If a person takes on a persona, lives in a fantasy world, creates an identity separate and apart, and yet becomes consumed by the double-life to the extent that he or she comes to believe one’s own creative imagination, does the fact that others who knew the person from childhood onward destroy the fool’s own universe of make-believe?

Of the old adage and Biblical admonition that prophets are never accepted in their own hometown — is this because those who know a person from early life, “know better”?

If we fool ourselves only within the contained universe of our own thoughts, and never let the fantasies “seep out” into the objective reality of other’s awareness, have we fooled ourselves?  Others?  Is living a “double-life” the same as fooling ourselves and others, or is it only when we fool those closest to us where the “double” makes a difference?

What about hiding a medical condition?  What if a person is on anti-depressants or other psychotropic medication regimens, and yet everyone else believes that person to be the envy of the world, of the very definition of “happiness” exponentially quantified, until one day that very person is committed to an intensive psychiatric hospital and it comes out that he or she is the most unhappiest of individuals — has that person fooled himself, others, or both?

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, a great deal of “fooling” must go on in the interim.  You may overcompensate; you may appear to others to be “just fine”; and the tailored seams of normalcy may continue on for some time, until the wear and tear of self-deception begins to take its toll.

Preparing, formulating and filing 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 often the first honest step towards being “true to one’s self”, and like the fool in Shakespeare’s King Lear, it is the capacity of the King fooling himself, and not the honesty of the fool, that makes for the tragedy that ensues.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Law: Sound legal arguments

Arguments in general share a characteristic within the more limited field of those involving legal issues: soundness is based upon factors involving coherence, cogency, consistency and the application of the rules of propositional logic.  The latter — of propositional logic — can get lost in general arguments when they become wrapped in multiple compound statements, shouted with ardor and passion, and conveyed with a sense of unequivocal belief as to one’s “rightness” and doubtless self-righteousness.

Propositional logic within the field of legal argumentation, however, takes on a more limited and restrictive nature, for it normally is contained by the text of legal opinions and cases that have a value of precedence.  The “soundness” or its antonym — of an “unsound legal argument” — largely depends upon how much the legal practitioner will “stretch” the foundational apparatus involved: the analogical arguments used in citing legal precedents.

Future legal opinions — those evolving from the very attempts by lawyers to stretch those precedents into areas heretofore disallowed — are based upon the persuasive propositional logic argued at the appellate level, and even in the various stages of an OPM Disability Retirement case.  On an informal level, of course, one will want to cite legal precedents to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management at the first two stages of the process — at the Initial Stage of the OPM Disability Retirement process, as well as the Second, “Reconsideration” Stage.

At both levels, sound legal argumentation should be employed — by “sound”, meaning that the basic and well-known legal precedents should be cited involving what constitutes meeting the burden of proof in a Federal Disability Retirement application; what meets the legal requirements of an “accommodation”; the importance of medical evidence and the criteria that must be applied in assessing and evaluating the content and substance of the medical evidence presented; as well as the foundational basis of “sound” legal cases which delineate, in a persuasive manner, the compendium of evidentiary documentation which comprises one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

At the “Third Level” of the process, of course — an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (or more familiarly known as the “MSPB”) — one must take extra care in presenting sound legal arguments, because there, an Administrative Law Judge will be attuned to the “stretching” and “extension-attempting” arguments that citation of legal precedents may pose, and the “soundness” of one’s knowledge of “the law” is often a prerequisite in even trying to make one’s case before such an Administrative Law Judge.

For, in the end, sound legal arguments are not too dissimilar from arguments sound or unsound in general; they just require an extra component of legal training allowed that involves the proper and effective use and application of arguments by analogy based upon case-law precedents.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Life’s perverse fullness

As children, many are taught that life’s promise is unlimited in potentiality, full in its discourse of uncharted waters, and expansive in its promise for tomorrow.  Somewhere, in middle-to-late years, we begin to have a somewhat more “balanced” view: not of fullness merely painted with hope and promise, but with graffiti unasked for, undesired and unwanted: the perverse side of fullness.

Life can indeed contain and present a “full plate” (as metaphors go), but the question then becomes: What is on that plate?  When a potluck dinner is coordinated, there is an interesting phenomenon that occurs, where judgments are fairly quickly made by the systematic depletion of certain foods, and the untouched portions carefully avoided.  Anonymity is crucial to the success of the endeavor itself, but defensiveness is easily assuaged by the general rules of etiquette when asked and confronted: “Oh, I plan on getting seconds” or, “My plate is too small to get everything the first round!”

Excepting social pressures and avoiding hurt feelings, we all tend to gravitate towards that which we desire; yet, we also put on our plates the food items that “balance” the diet – with knowledge and admonitions that certain foods are “healthy” for us, while avoiding those that we have specific allergic reactions to, or otherwise leave us with uncomfortable residual gastronomic pains.

Every now and again, of course, we take on too much – or, as the saying goes and the wisdom that we impart to our children, “My eyes are too big for my stomach”.  It is then that we surreptitiously look for the hidden garbage bin, and infelicitously dump the “leftovers” beneath the mountain of other paper plates, and quickly scurry away from the scene of the crime committed.  Yet, why we fret over an infraction of taking on too much, is often a mystery; is it because waste balanced by greedy overreach combines to reveal a character flaw?  Or is it much simpler than that – that we are often too hard on ourselves?  Taking on “too much” is not a crime; it is simply an anomaly in the general dictum of life’s perverse fullness.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal Service workers who are at a critical juncture where filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits – whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset – becomes a necessity, it is often the case that one’s “life-plate” has become overburdened: work, career, personal obligations, medical conditions, effects of surgery, etc. – the balance can no loner be maintained.  Something has to “give”, and whatever that “something” is, it usually ends up further impacting one’s health.

Filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits should not be forever stuck on the “pause” button; the longer it stays in a rut, the greater opportunity for deterioration and detriment to one’s health.  We often wait until it is almost “too late”; but just remember that, where life’s perverse fullness includes one’s deteriorating health, it is never a good thing to leave that which is most important, untouched – one’s health.  And, as Federal Disability Retirement is a means to allowing for one’s health to improve so that, perhaps, one day, a second career, vocation, or further productivity can be achieved, so 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 often the portion of the potluck meal that requires first attention.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Early Medical Retirement for Federal and Postal Employees: At any given moment…

Despite evidence to the contrary, we tend to live life expecting disaster just around the next corner; and when it does happen, of course, it only confirms the greatest fears which we had anticipated all along.  Whether any singular calamity is merely a magnification of our expectation of life’s fragile coordinates of unfairness, or simply a reflection of truth in an objectively impassive and uncaring world, it is our sense of destiny left to the fates of gods who care not and submission to the evolutionary Darwinism of predatory-to-prey beliefs which obviates any residual joy of life.  Then, when a wrong turn is made, we shake our heads knowingly and whisper in a soliloquy of wisdom unconstrained, “I knew it,” or something akin thereto, like, “Of course”.

Does confirmation of that which is expected, a basis for cynicism?  We certainly give lip-service to children, dogs and people of lesser means and circumstances by providing unsolicited, positive coaching advice on life and living:  “There is hope, yet”; “Tomorrow is a brighter day”; “Today is the best day of the rest of your life”; and other quips of mindless wisdom meant to appease, while we knowingly whisper in the privacy of our caverns of suspicion with an addendum of:  “You just don’t know how bad it can get.”  And so it goes (as the great positive thinker, Kurt Vonnegut, used to say — but then, anyone who survived the bombing of Dresden has a right to hold such dilapidated opinions of shabbiness).

Thus, in a similar vein, for the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who finds that treatment at the hands of one’s own Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service when the time of need for support and acceptance is at its pinnacle — just doesn’t quite meet the standard of excellence expected in such moments, should be forgiven for having that shuddering tumult of suspicious concavity, when the Federal or Postal employee whispers, “At any given moment…” (i.e., the other shoe will drop; the Federal agency or U.S. Postal Service will further confirm their uncaring attitude; or some similar continuation of the initiating thought).

Preparing an effective 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, is often the solution to extricating oneself from the calamity of having a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from continuing in the positional duties of the Federal or Postal employment.  For, in the end, you do not want to stick around too long to verify and validate that thoughtful knowledge of wisdom you possessed as a Federal or Postal employee, when you first learned that life is not a bed of roses, rarely a shining star, and certainly not the lottery ticket each and every day, when — at any given moment — that proverbial “other shoe” may drop if you are a Federal or Postal employee needing to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Attorney: Playgrounds and the Collective Institution of Fair Play

We learn it early on; the unstated rules, the lines which may not be crossed, and to be weary of those whose reputation precedes them for the blatant disregard of both.  How they are learned; what they are; whether explicitly stated or impliedly conveyed; few, if any, have a memory where the Head Mistress of the Universe of Playgrounds sat us all down and said, “Now young ladies and gentlemen, here are the 10 rules of fair play.”  Regardless, we all somehow came to recognized and apply them.

Wittgenstein provides some valuable insight into the way we learn the language games involved in game-playing; much of it is through sheer doing, an ad hoc manner of practical reasoning and applied rationality.  And then, of course, we become adults (yes, at least most of us do; some, left behind on the playgrounds of life, remain as infantile cherubim, clueless and naive to the cynical ways of the world); and it always seems as if the same ones who violated the rules of the playground are the ones who flaunt the normative constraints of the greater universe.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are formulating a strategy for filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether one falls under the general aegis of FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the question often must be confronted as to the Supervisor, Manager, or even a fellow coworker who is pining for a confrontation and direct disregard of the collective institutional enforcement of what everyone else knows as “fair play”.

This, despite the fact that there are multiple Federal laws governing treatment of individuals with known medical disabilities.  But the Federal “system” of retaining workers with medical conditions and disabilities, and the perfunctory requirement of accommodations and the search to provide adequate accommodations, undermines any compelling force to restrain the playground bully.

OPM Disability Retirement benefits, filed either through one’s own agency if one is still on the rolls of the agency; or if separated, but less than 31 days since the official date of separation, in either case must be filed through the Human Resource Department of one’s own agency, or through H.R. Shared Services for Postal Workers (located in Greensboro, North Carolina); or, if separated for more than 31 days, then directly to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in Boyers, PA.

In the end, things rarely change much, if at all.  Those collective institutional enforcement mechanisms learned on the playground — tattling to the playground monitor or to one’s teacher; talking to one’s parents, etc. — end up with a snicker and a sneer.

Yes, society has become well aware of bullies and mean people, but they have been around longer than the oldest profession in the world, and the collective institution of fair play and the playgrounds upon which they played out, will continue to witness backstabbing and surreptitious violations, transferred universally to the places where adults play, and where the most vulnerable in need of the greatest protection, still must do things the old fashioned way:  reliance on sheer luck, or to seek the best legal advice possible.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire