OPM Disability Retirement Claims: Back to the future

The title comes, of course, from that classic 1985 movie, and depicts the idea of being able to go back to the past while yet retaining the knowledge of a future unforgotten.  Within the possibility of that paradigm, could the future be altered, or does the past that one thinks one is going back to already account for the presence of the person who goes back, and thus does the future remain within the rigidity of the unchanged past impervious to the arrogant thought that the future could be modified by the mere presence of one who goes back to the future thinking that the future could be changed?

The concept itself is a unique twist upon the creativity of human thought — not of time-travel into the future, but where the future as “now” is taken into the past, but with the retention of the “now” taken with us, thus becoming no longer a “now” but a future knowledge merely because one goes back into the past.

From whence does such an idea originate?  Is it our yearnings that begin to percolate in old age, when regrets seep beyond the borders of mere wistful thoughts and find their tug-and-pull upon our consciences?  Is it to try and make up for all the stupidity that has prevailed in the bumpy road of growing up, where mistakes made were forced upon family and friends who had the compassion and empathy to carry us through our troubled times?  Do regrets uncorrected plague our later years more than when youth betrayed the lack of character shown so brazenly when weeping mothers and shuddering fathers kept their silence during those terrible years of want and waste?

To go back to the future is but a yearning to correct mistakes left in forlorn corners of regretful memories, and for Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition is beginning to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the time is “now” to begin to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Going back to the future is not an option; the medical condition is with us now, and it is precisely the “now” which must be dealt with in order to prepare for an uncertain future.

Certainly, it would be nice to “go back” — back before our careers were impacted; back before the medical condition became chronic and intractable; and back before this mess called “life’s trials” began to prevent us from performing the essential elements of our jobs.  But it is only in the movies where the past can be corrected; in reality, going back to the future means that we must now proceed with caution to correct the mistakes and malfunctions of life in the context of today’s reality, and not yesterday’s regrets.

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

 

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