Postal and Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Preponderance of the Evidence

It is the legal standard by which civil (non-criminal) adjudications are based upon, and whether or not it can be rationally demarcated as against other standards – i.e., “Clear and convincing evidence” or “Proof beyond a reasonable doubt” is a question for legal theorists and the schools rendered under the general aegis of, “The Philosophy of Law” – is a valid question in and of itself.

For, we can dress prettily and puff up the definition of what it all means, and bifurcate and explain how the three standards are distinct and differentiated by the increasing severity of the criteria to be applied, but in the end, the juror who goes back into the room to consider the guilt or innocence, the fault or apportioned negligence, is entirely subjective.

For, is there a clear demarcation as to what “reasonable” is?  Can one delineate what is “clear” to one and “convincing” to another?  If a witness has perfect recall and a persuasive manner of telling a “story”, if one juror blurts out, “Oh, but his eye twitched and he was clearly lying through his teeth!” – what then?  And the concept that one side has a “preponderance of the evidence”, or to put it in different but equally confusing terms like “more likely than not” or “the greater weight of truth” – what do all of these analogies and metaphors mean, in the end?

Surely, there are the “easy” cases – an entire football stadium who saw a man shoot another, and the assailant who confesses to the murder; these, we can say are “beyond a reasonable doubt”, but even then, a single juror who has a beef against societal constrains can “nullify” a verdict by holding out.  So, what is the answer (or, for some who are still confused, “what is the question”)?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are entering the legal arena of preparing 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, the expectation, of course, is that the OPM Medical Retirement application will be approved at the first or second stages of the process – i.e., at the Initial Stage of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with OPM, or at the “Reconsideration Stage” of the process after an initial denial.

That being said, the Federal or Postal employee must – and should – consider the Third Stage of the Federal Disability Retirement process, which involves an Administrative Judge before the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.  That is when the legal standard of “Preponderance of the Evidence” will ultimately become relevant and operative, and where the evidence gathered and the amalgamation of arguments proffered becomes a basis for testing the validity of legal standards and the meaningful application of the law, evidence, and statutory interpretations.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Disability Retirement: Upon the Altar of Work

They are structures where sacrifices or worship occur.  Not being mutually exclusive, the former can represent the act of the latter, and the latter can constitute the fulfillment of the former.  And while we, in modernity, think of ourselves as sophisticated and beyond the vestiges of former practices of superstition and unscientific religiosity, an objective view of our actions betray the ongoing reliance upon past residues of robotic constancies.

Of course we have to make a living; of course we have to support our families.  But at what cost, and to whom do we owe our allegiance?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who sacrifice themselves at the altar of work, when medical conditions begin to clearly impact, deteriorate, denigrate and destroy the body, mind and soul of the Federal and Postal worker, then it is time to consider preparing, formulating and 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.

As most Federal and Postal employees are under FERS, the minimum eligibility requirement is to have at least 18 months of Federal Service.  Once that threshold is met, then the question is one of having the proper support from one’s treating doctor, psychiatrist, Nurse Practitioner, etc.  The true test for a Federal Disability Retirement application will be in establishing the nexus between one’s medical condition and the positional duties of one’s official job, as reflected on SF 50 (Federal employees) or PS Form 50 (Postal employees).

Ultimately, when the altar of work becomes more than a means of support, and harkens back to the days of yore where sacrifice and worship intersected to pay tribute to the gods of the underworld, it is time to consider the alternatives available, and for Federal and Postal employees, that should always include the possibility of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Disability Retirement: The Legal Language Game

Wittgenstein’s contribution to Western Philosophy was an extension of a line of English linguistic/analytical approach to unraveling substantive issues of confounding puzzlement.  Leave it to the British to resolve all problems through the correct usage of language — or, in his case, of Austrian-British conversion.

Within every context of societal constructs, there are unique conventions of linguistic acceptance.  Thus, the “language game” when engaging a Rapper will necessarily be different from that of having a polite dinner conversation with the Pope, and discussion with a computer geek will take on a different tone and content than speaking to a 2-year old.

Similarly, there is a specific language game when entering the legal arena — often characterized by aggression, subtle threats, compelling force and the Roman Centurion admixture with troubadourian  characteristics ready to paper-massacre the opponent.  Words like “liability”, “sue”, “court order”, “subpoena”, “deposition”, “money damages” — they comprise the extensive corpus of the language game of lawyersAdministrative law is a sub-facet of that legal route, but involves a bureaucratic maneuver which involves just as a great a level of complexity and specialized knowledge.

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is an administrative legal process which asserts the right to, and compels the attainment of, a Federal benefit from OPM for Federal and Postal employees under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  It is not simply “given away”, and must be secured through proof of a level rising to a preponderance of the evidence.  There are legal precedents to follow, statutory and regulatory components which must be adhered to, and laws both stated and implied which encapsulate the whole of the language game of OPM Disability Retirement.

As a subset of the greater language game of “The Law”, it is a winding route of mazes within precipitous promontories involving a complexity of conundrums — not quite as esoteric as the language game of mathematics or physics, but somewhat akin to computer geekery and macro-economics.  Add to that the sword of yore utilized by a Roman Centurion ready to attack, transformed into the mighty pen (or, in modern linguistic update, the laptop computer).


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Environment

There is pervasive talk about the importance of containing toxic waste dumps, keeping our air and water clean; of limiting the dumping of animal feces into our oceans, rivers, streams, etc.; and, indeed, there are agencies and departments created by State, Federal and Local governments devoted to enforcing laws designed to protect us and preserve the pristine condition of our “environment”.

But what of toxic environments of another sort?  What of the poison inserted through malicious intent?  Of the constant harassment and hostility used to intimidate, cower and attain submissive unraveling of defiance?  For those, there are designated courts, commissions and laws passed to protect, for purposes of prosecution and pursuit of money damages.  Of course, the results from either and both arenas of judicial relief are difficult to quantify; whether and to what extent pollutants were introduced into the environment, and by whom; or of what level of toxicity caused harm and damage to an individual; the qualitative measure of damages is always difficult to ascertain.

It is, ultimately, only from the personal perspective and experience that one can gauge the damaging results.  For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact the capacity to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, there is often a parallel track of pursuing Federal Disability Retirement benefits and concurrently to go after the individuals or organization that discriminated because of the disability acknowledged and recognized.  For the Federal or Postal employee who attempts to secure some semblance of “justice” in the process, the goal of the law has been misdiagnosed:  Justice is not the stated teleological motivation of statutory relief; rather, it is a means to appease.

But at what cost?  To what end?  By whose measure?

Filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, sets a specific goal:  cut one’s losses and move on in one’s life.  By filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the Federal and Postal employee is able to leave the toxic environment which may have even contributed to one’s medical condition or disability, or at the very least, exacerbated it; by fighting it, one must remain within the very environment which one is attempting to escape from.

Like Father Damien of Molokai who helped lepers live with dignity as a separate individual from without, but who later contracted the disease and died as “one of them” within, the Federal or Postal employee who files for Federal Disability Retirement benefits may want to consider the consequences of the dual track of environmental toxicity before taking on a behemoth of mythical proportions, as opposed to preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement in order to exit the poisoning atmosphere.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire