Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Analogy of Games

Games created and imagined by societies will likely reflect societal values, beliefs, fears, and generally the character and personality of the social structure of the time.

That is why life situations are often described and elaborated upon by reference to particular games, by analogy, to elucidate the reality of a specific situation, or perhaps even the absurdity — because by describing the game, it removes the need to discuss a present reality, and instead to speak of it in terms of a third-person phenomena.

Thus, one might refer to the game of Go — and instruct the novice that, as in life, every time you “pass”, the opponent gains a move, and the more you pass, the greater gains, until victory occurs.  Or the oft-quoted game of Chess, in which one must always think in terms of 5 moves ahead, lest your opponent already has mapped out the path to checkmate before you have even considered your options.  And so we live life as we play games.

For the Federal or Postal Worker who is considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, such analogies are instructive.  “Passing”, as in the game of Go, will only allow the two opponents — the agency, and the medical condition against which one is battling — to gain the upper hand both in terms of time and closing potential options.  Failing to consider future moves, as in the game of Chess, will only increasingly limit and restrict one’s future ability to act; and so one’s future is diminished by the enemy of time.

In the end, games are created merely for recreation; but life itself is more than a period of fun and games, and failure to consider the seriousness of an analogy is only to the detriment of he who fails to consider the applicability of parallel universes.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The Changed Standard

Lawyers are trained to engage in linguistic gymnastics; that is precisely why Plato railed against rhetoricians of his day, as they used language to distort the fullness of being (as Heidegger would say).  For, the malleability of language allows for a spectrum of purposive and mischievous play upon words; only an abiding sense of integrity in the face of a world which has abandoned parameters and boundaries of what constitutes “fair play” in the arena of linguistic word games, would save the original foundation of the correspondence theory of truth.

In this postmodern world where objective truth can no longer be argued for, subtlety in playing a language game is no longer necessary; one can simply, deliberately and without conscience switch one word for another, and maintain a straight face.

So, in a Federal or Postal Disability Retirement case, when the U.S. Office of Personnel Management inserts words which clearly do not reflect the legal standard as presently existing, what does one do?  When the standard is raised to require “disability which precludes you from the workplace”, or evidence of a medical condition which is “compelling”, how does one respond?

Such unwarranted and baseless legal applications are inserted in many denials from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, requiring a Request for Reconsideration or an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board.  In the end, in order to properly respond, one must first recognize the malleability of language; then to identify the proper legal standard to be applied; then to selectively address such improper legal standards.

In a Federal Disability Retirement case, whether under FERS or CSRS, the ultimate problem is that one is dealing with a Leviathan of an agency — the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — and one which has the power to engage in rhetorical flourishes with unfettered abandon.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Sports Metaphors

The abundance of metaphors comparing life with sports has pervaded throughout in literature, opinion pieces, articles, etc.  We can relate to sports, because many have been active participants in their youth; continue to engage in it via playing in various adult leagues, or coaching their kids, or perhaps just passively enjoying watching various sports on television, etc.

As a metaphor, it is seen as a “life-lesson”.  It is supposed to teach all aspects of “building character” — of the value of hard work, proper preparation, ethical conduct and behavior, etc.  In pragmatic terms, when one actually plays a sport, it merely becomes a one-to-one adversarial encounter with an opponent, and sometimes teaches merely that the “playing field” is not always level, and the opponent does not always follow the same rules of the game as one is taught to do.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, a comparative metaphor to any sports would be to characterize the entire administrative process as one of the battle between David and Goliath.  The Office of Personnel Management has its own set of rules — of a criteria which is allegedly applied, but which often has limited rational basis; of a time frame within which they say they attempt to meet, but which is systematically ignored; of following rules and regulations as they interpret them, etc.

What would one say about a sport in which one side makes up the rules and then ignores them?  Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is like a professional football team (representing OPM) going against a high school chemistry class deciding to put together a team (the Federal or Postal employee).  The teams are unequal; the playing field is never level; and the outcome of the encounter must therefore be decided by careful preparation, a cohesively formulated plan, and a filing deliberation which results in a compelling total package.

Such is the metaphor with sports:  to prepare, formulate and file — in an effective manner.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire