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

 

Lawyer Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Cat’s Cradle

It is the complex game of strings wrapped around the small fingers and thumbs of each hand (or a modification of that contorted vestibule of human appendages), and where each player turns the cradle of the strings into greater complexity with each move by the other.

When children play it, the ease with which each turn of transforming the cradle of strings is a fascinating experience to witness.  When grown-ups do it — or, more accurately described, mess it up royally and invert the design into a an ugly bundle of irreversible entanglements that can no longer be played — the “overthinking” begins, the hesitation blockades and the uncertainty overwhelms.

It is always the grownups who mess up the beauty of the world’s designs, while children play it effortlessly, without conscious thought and with an innocence of proceeding that reveals much about what happens to an individual when you “grow up”.

Of course, we all have to grow up.  It is a sad inevitability.  That is why when the stunted individual who never quite got over his or her high school years, and still to this day talks about that grand finale of his senior year where the glory days of football, parties and friendships that were promised to last forever — that these frozen images yet remain so many years later as the pinnacle of one’s life and achievements — we shake our heads sadly and wonder at the fragile nature of man’s folly.

Cat’s cradle is the metaphor for much of life itself — of how simple childhood is, and yet so complex like the strings that bind the hands that create.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal job, the time to “think” about the next move — like the overthinking grownup who is asked to take the next step in the game of Cat’s Cradle — may seem complex because of its very simplicity.

There is the future to think about, and all that comes with it.  One’s career, health and future security are all entangled within the strings that wrap around and throughout one’s life, but the question that remains is similar to the conundrum of a Cat’s Cradle — is it you who will make sure that the next design of strings will turn out “right”, or will you leave it up to the Federal Agency or the Postal Service to determine your future course of actions?

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is a complex administrative process —much like the tangle of strings in a Cat’s Cradle —but it is the simplicity of deciding that will make all the difference as to whether the next move will be a successful one.

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

 

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

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Distractions

They are the projects of life of which Heidegger recognizes, allowing for avoiding the inevitabilities of life’s challenges; of fate, mortality, future insecurity, and death.  What quantifiable slice of one’s life is governed by distractions?  Must it always be less than 50% in order to remain so, and if it exceeds that halfway point, does it then become something substantive and not merely the peripheral meaning of what it means to “be distracted”?  If a distraction is considered to be an aside – that which waylays a person’s attention by focusing upon a central project of life’s endeavor – what then defines an inversion of that perspective?

Take, for example, the following:  A mechanical engineer is working on a technical project that consumes one’s focus, concentration and attention to detail, but has a unique and eccentric ophthalmological condition, whereby the eyes are compelled to follow any and all red objects that pass by.

Now, the company has attempted to accommodate the medical condition by requesting that no employee shall enter into the mechanical workshop wearing red, but on this particular day, some investors are visiting, and a man in the troop of intruders is wearing a red tie, and a woman in the entourage is sporting a red sweater.  They go from bench station to the next cubicle, within the purview and arc of dimensional periphery of the eccentric man’s attention, and with each movement, every sidelong blur, his eyes are “distracted” by the red moving objects.

Out of every minute of work, fully 45 seconds are spent on focusing upon the red objects that detract from the necessary mental acuity attending to the project at hand, and indeed, while they are far enough away such that from an objective viewpoint, the objects are mere inches in proportion and are of a distance as to almost be unnoticeable to others in the group of engineers, for the eccentric mechanical engineer, it is the focal point of his attentions.

The distraction is such that it disrupts the sequence of testing conditions and interrupts the validity of the technical precision required, and a coworker finally declares, “You’ve been too distracted and the project has to be scrapped.”  Would we agree that, because of the numerical disproportionality of concentration attributable, “red-object observation” takes precedence as the primary project, and it is the engineering project that is the distraction?  Or, because it is a medical condition of which he “cannot help it”, do we excuse the distraction in its entirety?

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 positional duties, the central point made here is precisely how the Federal agency and the Postal facility views the issues significant in a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Federal Agencies and the U.S. Postal Service possess a myopic view of “work”, and even if the Federal or Postal employee is able to continue making valuable contributions to the workplace, they often see the differentiation between “work” and “distractions” as one quantifiable by time alone.  This is too bad, but a reality that must be faced.  For, medical conditions are not mere distractions; they are life’s interludes that can often be faced and overcome, if only outmoded ideas about what constitutes workplace contributions are set aside, and realize that even distractions delaying the central mission of a Federal agency or Postal facility are not the most important, or even of much significance, when it comes to the worth and value of a human life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire