Legal Representation for OPM Disability Retirement Claims: ‘To’ and ‘For’

What would be the difference if, in the title of Willa Cather’s novel, “Death Comes for the Archbishop”, she had instead chosen to use the word “to” in replacement of “for”?  Would empires have fallen, world wars have been averted or earthquakes and other natural disasters have been delayed?

Likely, not; but would the countless minds that have encountered the novel, enjoyed its beautiful prose and admired its humanity and warmth in the telling of a tale of a time long past and a period now gone — would anyone have even noticed?  Is there a difference with a distinction: “Death Comes for the Archbishop” as opposed to “Death Comes to the Archbishop”?

Some might dismissively declare, “In any event, the Archbishop died, didn’t he?”  The subtlety of distinction — should it even be brought up?  Would that the title was of the latter instead of the former — would anyone have even noticed?  Is there a grammatical point of difference; is one “more” correct than the other?

Certainly, the “sense” that is employed exists — where, the “to” has a much more objective and distant, impersonal “feel” to it, whereas the “for” personalizes it, gives it warmth, almost as if “death” is a person as opposed to an event, and the “for” makes it a personal possessive as opposed to the “to” that connotes an arms-length relationship between the object and subject.

Are the prepositions interchangeable?  If a person is stricken with grief over a tragedy and a close friend arrives to provide comfort and says, “I came for you”, it would be a statement that would be considered heart-warming.  If, under the same circumstances, the person instead declared, “I came to you” — would we, again, mark the difference or even notice?  It is, certainly, a statement of objective fact — the person objectively traveled and arrived at destination Point B from origination Point A.

Again, the subtle distinction — the “for” connotes a greater personal warmth as opposed to a simple statement of fact.  It is, in the end, the subtle differences that sometimes makes the entirety of a distinction that makes the difference.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the distinction between “to” and “for” is often the difference between living a life worthwhile and one that remains cold and impervious.

Human beings are often careless in their personal relationships; and the test of such caring or uncaring attitudes will often surface when a person is going through a trial or tragedy, and preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the complex and impersonal administrative process of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, will often test the workplace relationships because of the self-interested motives that exist with agencies and the Postal Service.

Some coworkers, supervisors and others will distance themselves immediately, and they will remain in the category of the “to” people; while other coworkers, managers, supervisors, etc., will surprisingly be there “for” you.  Willa Cather chose the preposition “for” over the “to” because she was an excellent author, and it is the excellence of a human being that is revealed in the subtle differences we often overlook.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Answering the question

What constitutes “answering the question”, and more importantly, how does one determine when its opposite occurs — NOT answering the question?  Does the former occur if the questioner fails to follow up, and does the latter become an issue if the person asking responds with, “That doesn’t answer my question,” or some such similar declarative assertion?

Take the following hypothetical:  Person A asks Person B, “So, where do you come from?”  Person B answers, “The skies of Normandy were grey on that June day in 1944.”  Now, Person A could have various responses to such a statement, as in:  1.  “No, no, I asked where you came from.” 2. “Are you telling me that you come from Normandy, France?”  3.  “That doesn’t answer my question.”  4. Or, silence, with no follow-up.

Person B, of course, could similarly respond in variegated ways, as in:  A.  “I just told you.”  B.  “Yes” or “No” (in response to the follow-up question, “Are you telling me that you come from Normandy, France?”).  C.  Silence, or “Yes it does.”  D.  Nothing further.

It may be that Person B simply has a poetic bent, and from his perspective, the mundane query was answered in a metaphorical, literary manner.  More to the point, however:  Who determines if a question has been answered (leaving aside the further query of whether the answer itself has “sufficiently” or “fully” been responsive to the question) — the one who asks, or the one who answers?

In a normal conversation, of course, the issue rarely comes about; in an argument where one or the other side, or both, are trying to get answers and defeat the other side, the heat of the moment may determine the answer to the question; and the penultimate paradigm of the question, “Who determines whether the question has been answered?” occurs in the highest form during a deposition or cross-examination in the legal arena.

Observing what occurs during a court proceeding is an interesting experience of human behavior; of the back-and-forth between counsels and the witnesses being deposed or examined, as in:  “You didn’t answer the question.”  “Yes, I did.”  “I asked you…”.  “Asked and answered.”  “Objection, the question has already been asked and answered.”  And on and on until a singular point is pursued to an exhaustive level ad infinitum and ad nauseum.

Is the issue of what constitutes an answered question somewhat akin to the question or “original intent” — i.e., that just like an author’s original intent as to the meaning of a written document is what should rule, similarly, the person who asks the question has the sole power to determine whether or not the question asked has been answered, and moreover, adequately and sufficiently answered?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are beginning the process of 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, these questions concerning the “answering of questions” will and should come to the forefront when confronted with the questions asked on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

Inasmuch as the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has promulgated the questions in a carefully-crafted manner, there are some inherent pitfalls and dangers in what constitutes an adequate response, a sufficient answer and the complete delineation that rises to the level of a satisfactory statement.

SF 3112A is replete with unanswered questions within the very substance of each question, and the answers you provide are best guided by an attorney who has had the experience of legal encounters previously, and who specializes in the Law of Federal Disability Retirement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney for Federal Disability Retirement Claims: The concise sentence

What is the difference between being concise and performing with precision?  The former is often applied in the universe of words and communication; the latter, in areas where quantitative measuring tools can be determined, such as in science or in mathematical sectors.

We say of a person who speaks voluminously but with little substance that he or she represents the antonym of conciseness; and so a comparison is often made between volume spoken or written and concepts or thoughts conveyed.  Of Literature, most would agree that Hemingway is the representative paradigm of conciseness, whereas Joyce and Faulkner reflect the very opposite, though all three are considered classic and great authors.

Do we excuse such authors as Joyce and Faulkner because, in literature, we tend to focus upon the stylistic brilliance of their writings as opposed to the “meaning” that captures the undercurrent of their works?  In other words, although they may give us “too many” words and thus are, by definition, lacking of conciseness, we nevertheless overlook such imprecision precisely because we do not attribute “amount” as the necessary and sufficient cause of determining the worth of good authorship.

Hemingway used to say that, in writing, he had already formulated each sentence before setting it upon paper, whether in handwriting (a lost art) or at the typewriter (a manual, when those contraptions existed and where the clack-clack of metal keys pounded deep into the twilight of a writer’s life).

Why do we applaud and celebrate the concise sentence?  Does it make a difference whether or not a sentence, say, with 7 words communicates a thought as opposed to a paragraph with a thousand words that conveys the identical conceptual construct?

Take the following 2 examples: 1. Lessening of debt equals wealth. Or, 2: If you have less to owe to others, then it is the same as savings; or, as Benjamin Franklin used to say, a penny saved is a penny earned, and the reality of it all is that we have more to spend and retain wealth, not so much because you have more money, but you have more because less is spent on paying other people your hard-earned dollars.

Now, both sentences convey essentially the same meaning.  The first one, however, is comprised of 5 words. The second one took…many words to communicate the same thought.  Does it matter whether a concise sentence is used, as opposed to one that is not, if the same two convey identically reflective thoughts?

It might make a difference, because of one factor that has not been discussed: Being concise often possesses the added feature of being precise, and precision is important in the accuracy of conveying thought.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are thinking about 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, there is a dual-key component to preparing the SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability: Be concise, but do not forego length for completeness.

In other words, being concise in order to convey the proper information is important; but, at the same time, do not sacrifice wordiness just because of the limited “boxes” that are provided on SF 3112A.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Those intersecting connections

We hear all the time about the shrinking world, the smaller universe, the global village – all metaphors to help and understand, to comprehend and be able to withstand within the insanity of a world that continues to intrude, intersect and impose itself upon every corner and aspect of lives lived and daily interrupted.  It is a way for people to cope with the fact that we can no longer avoid the reality of those intersecting connections from worlds, cultures and universes that make up the daily reality of our walking lives.

The newspapers globalize each and every issue; the television and cable news outlets care little for local news unless it, too has some national consequences; and so we live with the anomaly that the only time you might hear about your own hometown is if some horrific event occurs that other people in other towns might care about.  And, even when a story is reported about an event that occurs just around the corner from the news station, headquarters or whatever manner of identifying the central place where all of the equipment, studios and personnel gather to emit their airwaves of newsfeeds, they act as if it is occurring in some distant county or country, with perhaps a bit of weeping as an afterthought with a statement like, “And it makes it all the worse because it happened just in our own neighborhood!”

The world is indeed one comprised of intersecting connections, and we voluntarily allow for those connections to make our own perspectives molded into “theirs” by inviting various cable channels into our living rooms.  Do we really have a choice?  Can we just remain ignorant and ignore the reality of the global economy, the extended village and the universal concerns of the day?  How do we live with the complexities of intersecting connections, when we can barely deal with the local problems that beset us within the cocoon of our own lives?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact the daily ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, the microcosm of intersecting connections may well be magnified to a level where it competes with what is occurring on a more global scale.

Suddenly, the Federal Agency is moving to put pressure on you – like those competing foreign companies you hear about in the world economy.  Or, the Supervisor is no longer being cordial – somewhat like the world leader who doesn’t return calls to the President.  Coworkers no longer treat you as an equal – like nations that suddenly go rogue without explanation.  You have to file a complaint – like submitting to a U.N. vote for sanctions.

We have all been groomed and prepared to think in terms of intersecting connections, but for the Federal and Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition such that preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application becomes a necessity, it all comes back to a more local and personal connection: one’s health, and the need to focus upon one’s personal life.

No matter how global the world has become, never forget that it is the personal life of close connections that really only matters in the end.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The changing straw

The “straw that broke the camel’s back” is a known idiom that essentially reveals to us the last in the series of incidents or actions that cumulatively result in the destruction of the whole.  What in the series preceding the last straw; of what weight and import; to what significance may be attributable, we rarely focus upon; it is the last one in the series that we focus our attention upon, precisely because we assume that it is the causal connection to the event that conclusively occurs with a finality of actions.

Yet, as Hume would point out, the fact that a “final straw” placed upon the camel’s back resulted in the next event following, does not establish a causation where that final straw was in fact the cause before the effect.  It merely shows us that X occurred prior to Y’s conclusion.  If a rooster awakens and makes his morning call and the sun rises upon the horizon, and thereafter an earthquake shakes the foundation of the planet, do we conclude that the rooster was the final straw, or that the rising of the sun “caused” the tectonic shifts beneath?

No – the idiom itself, of course, is not meant to be analyzed in that manner; rather, it is a “saying” that merely denotes that, upon a series of events, issues or actions, there comes a boiling point of finality where enough is enough.  But the evolution of societal norms does, indeed, allow for the straw to change over time.

Once upon a time, people “stuck it out” and remained married – if only to keep one’s vows, or for the “sake of the children”, or perhaps some other noble purpose.  Now, the “straw” that results in a divorce has changed – it can range from “failing to communicate” or even because one spouse has gotten bored of the other.  With that changing straw, people tend to tread lightly, given the low threshold of tolerance.  Law is somewhat like the changing straw – perhaps not the substance (although that can change through legislative action), but certainly the application.

For Federal or Postal employees 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 issue to always be kept at the forefront is the changing straw throughout – what is the “straw” at work which will help make the decision?  What “last straw” is needed before the cumulative effects of the medical conditions persuade you to realize the need to file?  What “straw” of the law needs to be applied to persuade as to the viability of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application?

There are many “last straws” in life, and much of them change as time goes on; the law, however, remains fairly constant, except for the “last straw” of legal opinions that often alter the landscape of substance and applicability.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Civil Service: By what measure?

Does a formula, a paradigm or a standard instill in us the direction we so desire?  How is it that we compare X to something, and is the contrast a necessary prerequisite to achieving and accomplishing, or is that some artificial, societal construct that we have manufactured in order to sell ourselves a “bill of goods”?

Yes, yes – Western Civilization (remember that middle-school subject taught under the general aegis of that title?) always begins with the philosophical precept of Aristotle’s, of “First Principles” and the “causes” of events and occurrences, but where is it stated that we must have a “measure” by which to compare and contrast?  By what measure do we apply ourselves, or is not the evolutionary will to survive and the genetic predisposition to propagate a sufficient factor in the drive to excel?  Like peacocks during mating season and robins that reveal a ferocity of savagery in the spring months, is there a measure by which we are deemed a success or failure, and by a standard where comparisons are made, conclusions are reached and judgments are rendered?

Rare is the solitary figure who abandons all implements of societal judgments and goes it alone without the condoning nod of an authority figure.  Lone wolves are figments of mythological fables; the rest of us follow the herd by the measure set by others in a society of gossipers and watchdogs set upon us without warning or consistency.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the standard of measure has always been some unstated and unfairly predetermined set of rules that are governed by a bunch of words we never agreed to – i.e., “productivity at the cost of health”; “loyalty to the mission of the Federal Agency without regard to medical conditions”; “repetitive work leading to stress injuries where proving causation is nigh impossible”, and other such silent statements of accord – but where the last bastion of hope often resides in 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.

All of these many years, the Federal or Postal worker has toiled under tremendous pressure by the measures set by the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal facility; fortunately, the standard by which OPM Disability Retirement benefits are granted is predetermined by statutory authority, and not by arbitrary fiat by a supervisor, manager or some other head of the department or agency by will of authority or changeable character of an individual.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM must follow certain eligibility guidelines and statutory confinements, as with most other set standards; but by what measure you may live your life after winning an OPM Disability Retirement annuity – that is set by you, the lone wolf.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement from Federal Employment: Far-Flung Universes

Each generation tells a generic story reflective of the times; and thus did the Great Depression era produce movies and epics with undertones of escapism from the harsh realities of life; of the 60s, the fear of nuclear holocaust and the confrontation of the Cold War; of the following decade revealing the hesitation for  technology and its pervasive intrusion into the privacy of our lives; and so on, so the anxiety, fear and loathing goes.

Throughout, people escape in their own private ways, through daydreaming, imaginative time-travels as in the classic short story by James Thurber depicted in, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”; and other times in nightmares and dreams controlled only through the breaches in our subconscious.  It often seems as if the far-flung dimensions and dominions of hope save us only through living in those other-world universes, if only for a moment, a period, a time and a day.

Vacations and weekends only delay the inevitable, and then the harshness of who we are, what we have become, and where we are going, all come crashing back, like the rolling waves of thunderous whitecaps which bellow in the echoing chambers of the far recesses of our minds.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to threaten one’s livelihood, resulting in the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service beginning subtle (or not so) noises of increasing pressures through adverse actions, like unpleasant abdominal groans which should remain private but echo out into the public domain, it may be time to escape the escapism of the alternate universe and become “real” by 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.

Other and far-flung universes offer hope beyond dreams, but when the dream is shattered by the progressively deteriorating forces of a present-day reality, it is time to travel back to the origins of reality, and face a full-frontal confrontation of what the pragmatic steps of day-to-day concerns must by necessity bring, and begin to prepare, formulate and file for OPM Disability Retirement benefits.

Alternate dimensions indeed reflect the times one lives in, and may even represent a pleasant moment in time, a respite away from the harshness of today’s reality; but when the awakening occurs, one must shake away the cobwebs of fantasy, and face the serious concerns of one’s angst-filled day, as the medical condition will not go away, the Federal agency and the U.S. Postal Service will not fade, and the fight to survive will remain as real today as it will be tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire