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

 

OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: The misplaced comma

It is such an inconsequential mark in the universe of imprints that pervade, and yet so significant, but in a cloak of anonymity, when misplaced.  It possesses the same features as other punctuations of grammar — identical to the apostrophe, the same in mimicking as the singular quotation mark that is so prevalent; and the same shape is used in multiple diacritic writing systems common within Ancient Greek writing systems, and still survives apparently in the written systems utilized in Latvian, Romanian and Livonian.

It allows for clauses to appear, to become dependent and separated, and to confine into a separate meaning where the conceptual clause, whether dependent and leaning for support upon the main thought expressed, can convey an independence of meaning that adds and modifies the original idea.

It is the misplaced comma that makes one pause and ponder — why must we hesitate here?  Why did they put a red-light in the middle of the sidewalk?  Why does the sign say, “No passage” in the center of a store, and yet we can step beyond the red line and still proceed?

Does the misplaced comma apply in spoken language?  Take the following example: You are standing and talking to a friend, and the friend says: “Now, I want you to — no comma, here — know that tomorrow it is going — no comma, here — to rain— here, there is a comma — and therefore we have to have — no comma here — our umbrellas with us.”  Aside from rendering an irritating manner of speaking, it was all so unnecessary, wasn’t it?  We don’t have to apprise others of a misplaced comma unless it is actually misplaced, and when speaking as opposed to writing, it is not needed because the hesitation in speech itself tells us of the comma, whether misplaced or not.

In written form, however, the misplaced comma — again, aside from being a mere irritant — compels us to pause, to hesitate, to take a reflective millisecond — like coming upon a crack in the sidewalk when we were kids and thinking, “Should I skip and jump over it or just be brave and step on the crack?”

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the pervasive feeling of one’s tenuous position in the workforce is often likened to a misplaced comma.  You no longer “fit” into the mission of the agency.

Others begin to hesitate when approaching you; there is “talk about” you that you sense, and there appears to be commas all around, bifurcating, separating, creating dependencies that seem to segregate and confine, like invisible fences — nay, commas – that have been placed all around.

It is then time to begin to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  Consult with an experienced attorney and replace the misplaced comma with an emphatic period that will end the misery that continues to deteriorate.

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 Medical Retirement: Best/Worst Case Scenario

It is a procedural approach, and those who engage in it often have the greater talents akin to science, engineering, mathematics and symbolic logic.  It is the person who views every contingency in terms of best and worse case scenarios before deciding upon a determined course of action.

But how accurate is the “best” and the “worst”?  How can one determine if the informational input that is “fed” into the substance of that which will result in the output of what is described as the “best” and the “worst” is accurate enough to make it even worthwhile?  Does a gambler enter into a casino and make such assessments? Of thinking to him/herself in terms of: If I place X amount on the table and lost it all, what is the best case scenario, and what is the worst?  When a person begins a career, does he or she begin life with the same approach?  How about marriage?  Or having children?  Or, is it more likely that such an application really has a very limited impact, and should be used sparingly in the daily events of life’s encounters?  Is that a false set of alternatives precisely because there are many incremental and relevant “in-betweens” that may determine one’s course of action?

Perhaps the picture painted of the “best” scenario of outcome determinatives need not be the basis for one’s decision, and even the “worst” case scenario need not be the minimum standard or quality of life that we would accept, but somewhere in between or just shy of that extreme cliff that we have described?  Perhaps they are false alternatives when we present it in that light, with only those two extremes of alternative realities to consider?

For the Federal or Postal employee who suffers 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 the Federal or Postal employee’s job with the Federal Agency or the Postal Service, preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application does not need to be based upon false alternatives presented, but should instead be based upon a pragmatic step towards recognizing the reality of one’s medical condition, its impact upon one’s capacity and ability to continue in a job or career that may be detrimental to one’s health, and proceed based upon the totality of factors considered – but primarily with a view towards safeguarding one’s health.

Health is that “other factor” that tips the balance of what is the best or worst case scenario; for, in the end, there is no scenario at all without one’s health.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: Here

So much time is spent upon the anticipation of some event in the distant future; or, perhaps merely tomorrow, next week, next year.  Here is where we are; in the “now”, the immediacy of a life being lived.  Human beings are peculiar, unique and devastatingly unaware to that extent; we give lip-service to the notion of attaining happiness, joy and the capacity to relish the precious gift of life, while all the while failing to embrace and embody the here of this moment.

Look at tourists visiting the various wonders of the universe; do they seem to enjoy the experience of viewing ancient relics or places where momentous events occurred?  Or, are they busy trying to make sure that the video camera or the Smart Phone is capturing the smiles, the scenery and the attraction just beyond?  How many videos of the same places exist in the world today, tucked away in the memory banks of a digital chip?  What is the difference between the video chip stored in a personal Smart Phone as opposed to a professional movie that explores the identical tourist destination?

What is missing, of course, is the experience of the “here”.  Thus, when asked the question, “So, did you go and visit the famous ruins of X?”  The answer is too often, “Yes, and let me show you the video I took of X.”  As opposed to: “Yes, and let me try and describe to you the beauty of X.”  Anticipatory living is not necessarily a negation of living the “here” of one’s life, or even the “now”; but it comes close to missing out.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker who suffers 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 the Federal or Postal position, the need to file for Federal Disability Retirements benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is precisely the “here” that one is trying to preserve, by securing a “tomorrow” worth fighting for.

It is the “here” of one’s medical condition, the “here” of one’s health, and the “here” of some semblance of financial security that is the whole point of a Federal Disability Retirement benefit.  Yes, it is for tomorrow, and the process is a long, administrative headache that may not be approved until many tomorrows and another; but in the end, it is the “here” that is worth preserving, and the first step in securing a worthy tomorrow is by initiating the process of a Federal Disability Retirement application here and now.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The minor incident

Does history alter significance of incidents as time heals or otherwise events are forgotten?  Does the perspective of the one directly (or even indirectly) impacted make a difference upon the writing of history, or is it as some cynics have countered – that history is the written narrative of the victors, and everyone else is merely annotated as mere footnotes, if at all?

As the Great War became overshadowed by World War II, or as some historians argued that it was merely a singular war with a brief interlude between; will other wars that follow, as memories fade and the dying veterans no longer appear at parades and salute the tombs of those fallen, overshadow the epic battles fought, the bravery shown and the comrades buried beneath silent crosses of lonely nights?

The private lives that each of us live, and the minor incident that looms large within the encampments of our own minds; the designation of “minor” depends upon a perspective, does it not?

Reading history is an interesting endeavor, if only because it expands by bringing in a third-person perspective of events beyond, issues not thought of, and incidents that never took center stage.  The authors, now dead, of second and third-tier fame, who may have had a book published here or there but are now forgotten upon dusty bookshelves that librarians never notice; and most of us are merely minor incidents in the greater traffic of life’s misgivings.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition that prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal employee’s positional duties, perspectives matter.  A “minor incident” at work can become a major issue – and the medical condition one suffers from, or how the agency views the interaction between the minor incident and the natural consequences of working with a medical condition – and one’s viewpoint in contradistinction to the perspective of the agency can be important.

Whatever the issues that may come about or arise during the process, this much is clear: The Federal agency or the Postal Service has one “viewpoint” about your medical condition, and you have another.  The difference is, you have to suffer the medical condition, while the agency sits idly by and scoffs at the major event as if it is a minor incident.  That may mean that it is time to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal Worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Let the determination about whether a specific incident is minor or major be left up to the historian of tomorrow; what you, as a Federal or Postal employee must do, is to contend with the issues of today, and especially the medical condition from which you suffer, and which is far from being a minor incident.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire