Early Retirement for Disabled Federal Workers: Playing with words

What does it mean when a person alleges that you are “just playing with words”?  It is like the non-lawyer public who charges that a certain criminal “was gotten off on a technicality”, whereas the universe of lawyers sees that as a tautology:  Of course the person was found innocent based upon a “technicality” — for, isn’t all of law just that: a technicality?

There is, of course, some kind of implication that seeps beneath the surface of such a charge — that there is an inherent dishonesty in the manner of speaking certain words; that there is an “intended” or primary meaning of the usage of certain words, phrases or concepts, and that when they are taken out of context, seemingly used for a different, perhaps nefarious or self-interested purpose, then one is “playing with words” because dishonesty must by consensus be the condemnation of words used as toys in the hands of a thief.

What would the negation of the allegation be: of a person who declares suddenly, “You are not playing with words”?  Is that the appropriate charge when a person is blunt — like the current political arena of this new breed who says outright that which others merely reserve thoughts for in the privacy of insular lives?

Is that what diplomacy is substantively about — of “playing with words” so that double and triple meanings can be conveyed, leaving everyone paralyzed and motionless because no one knows what everyone else is thinking — at least, not in any precise manner?

Or, perhaps there is a different sense, as in: Words once upon a time held a sacred status and when we demean, abuse or misuse words in a certain way, then we can be charged with “playing with words”.

Sometimes, there are instances in which meanings are “stretched”, or when conclusions that are declared in an unequivocal manner do not coincide with the findings made or the evaluative analysis conducted, and so there is a “disconnect” between fact-finding and conclusion where a person declares unequivocally:  They are just playing with words.

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 one’s Federal or Postal job, 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, may become a necessity.

In that event, recognize that the entire endeavor is a complex administrative and bureaucratic action that must engage the arena of “words” — and some of it may involve the “playing of words” in the sense that you may have to tinker with different sets of words where comfort and becoming comfortable with unfamiliar concepts and phraseology “come into play”.

When an individual — you — who suffers from a medical condition which you must then step “outside of yourself” in order to describe yourself in “objective” terms, then it can become an oddity which may seem like you are “playing of words”.  In such an event, it is often of great benefit to consult with an attorney so that the very person utilizing the vehicle of words in describing one’s self is not the same person “playing with words” as the very person who suffers from the descriptive words being played with.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Expertise

What constitutes it, and who determines the status of when it is achieved?  We hear about people who are “experts” in this or that, referring to either experience, association or credentials, and based upon that, we accept their status of being an “expert” in the field.  Can that be undermined by personal experience?

Say a person has a Ph.D. in a given field, has worked in the capacity of that field for 30 years, and everyone in the field refers to him as the “resident expert” or “the best of the best” in the field; and yet, in a given situation calling for his or her expertise, he or she fails, is wrong, or otherwise falls short of having provided any competent input.  Does that undermine the expert’s status as an expert, or does one shrug one’s shoulders and say, “Well, you can’t be right all of the time”?  Say a “non-expert”, during the gathering of expertise and amassing of various opinions in making a critical decision, suddenly pipes up and says something contrary to what Dr. X – with-the-Ph.D-with-30-years-of-experience believes and has stated, but in the end he turns out to be right — does that make him or her the new resident expert?

There are, of course, the various logical fallacies — like the fallacy of “association by reputation” or of presumed certitude based upon past experiences (refer to David Hume, for example); but the ultimate question may come down to a simple grammatical one: is the concept used as a noun, an adjective or an adverb?  How does one “gain” expertise, or attain the status of an “expert”, and can it be by experience alone, a credential earned, or by reputation gained — or a combination of all three?

How did Bernie Madoff swindle so many people for so many years?  Was he considered an “expert” in financial matters, and what combination of the tripartite status-making byline (i.e., reputation, experience and credentialing) did he possess to persuade so many to be drawn to him?  Or, is it sometimes merely greed and a proclivity of vulnerability to a good storyteller enough to persuade one that a certain-X is an “expert”?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have come to a point in their lives and careers where a medical condition has begun to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform one or more of the critical or “essential” elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, a certain level of expertise may be necessary before preparing 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.

Ultimately, it is not “expertise” or some prior reputation that is important, but the accuracy of information received and the truth of the knowledge relied upon — and for that, one should do due diligence in researching not merely the “credentials” of those who declare some “expertise” in the area of Federal Disability Retirement Law, and not even self-puffery of self-promoting success, but in addition, an instinct as to the truth of what is stated.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

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.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The change is in us

We wake up each morning expecting the world to have remained unaltered during the night; yet, as Hume’s argument concerning causality would have us believe, there is no necessary connection we have identified or conceptually ascertained, but merely our imagination anticipating and projecting into the future, such that stability of the universe around us pervades in a constancy of regularity.

The surroundings remain familiar; the coffee machine is of the same make as when we left it the night before; even the dogs appear unchanged, ready to obey and begin the day in the fashion that canines are accustomed to.  Perhaps you bump into an object before turning on the lights, and you find that someone in the household has shifted it from where you last saw it.  You resolve to inquire about it later in the day, or are immediately satisfied that “X must have left it” and therefore the “mystery” is solved.  Never does it enter your mind that the world, in its own power of intended shifting, moved without direct causal intervention.  You step into the bathroom and look in the mirror, where the same features stare back.

Yet, what may be different, what results in a subtle but perceivable alteration, is not the world reflected on the wall behind, but the compendium of complex emotions, memories, thought-processes and cognitive intuitions having rested through the night, and now are awakened to perceive, judge, analyze and evaluate in the wakefulness of the moment.

It is us that changes.

As Kant pointed out, we bring human structures of perceptual constructs to the inert world which pervades and surrounds.  The universe we invade and occupy often remains constant, and in that rhythm of regularity, we find solace in a methodological quietude.  Yes, cars whiz by and honk their horns, and birds chirp in the early morning dawn, but such movement has already been anticipated and entered into the equation of our consciousness.  It is only if buildings move, like earthquakes responding to the tectonic shifts of unseen caverns, when we panic within the world of regularity we have created.

But then, sometimes, the outside force touches upon us directly, and that is when the peace and quiet of constancy becomes disturbed.

Medical conditions tend to do that — for they have a duality of existence.  It is a change “out there”, somewhere whether visible, as in a physical injury of open wounds, or “in there”, whether as an unseen pain correlated by a diagnostic test, or even a psychiatric condition which pervades and progressively debilitates.  But the duality exists precisely because the “there” is also part of the self which recognizes the change.

The change is not only “in us”, it is us.

And it is often that very duality of alteration which thus requires a further change in abutting against the unchanging and impervious universe around us.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, this realization that one’s own Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service is unwilling to change, to accommodate or to transform in response to the medical condition, is a knowledge which is gained often through the harsh reality of confrontation and harassment.  For such Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who come to this realization, the option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a consideration which must be seriously entertained.

It is, for many, a realization likened to “growing up” in a world which is often cold, uncaring and unconcerned.

As agencies are behemoths which reflect the character of a society, so it should not be surprising that Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service are not entities which respond well to change.  For, in the end, we must always recognize that the most significant change in the history of shifting burdens does not occur in the textbooks of time, but closer to the heart of every individual, and it is not change in the “other” which calls forth the earthquakes resulting in tsunamis, but it is the change in us, as it is change which is us.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Consequence of Indecision

Why is it that some are able to make thoughtful decisions within a relatively short span of time, while others are paralyzed by indecision?  Is it purely a reflection of that — of “thoughtfulness” as opposed to lack of thought?  Or, perhaps because some have already predetermined the applicable criteria which is immediately instituted, like placing a window frame upon a hole in the wall, thereby capturing the stillness of scenery ensconced in a timeless warp of alternative displays?  Is it important to have set up a “criteria” upon which characteristic distinctions can be made, separated, identified, then dissected for evaluative reduction such that the proverbial chaff can be separated from the wheat?

Recognition that some decisions are based purely upon appetitive criteria — such as choosing a meal from a menu — as opposed to selecting a college to study at, a career to enter, a job opportunity to consider; what is the applicable criteria to help frame the issues to be questioned, inquired into, resolved?  And where do values come in — belief systems, what one holds dear, whether there are normative cultural pressures to consider, and the moral caveat which precedes the judgment of friends, family and relatives?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, at what point does the Federal or Postal employee consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management?  is it when you finally drop dead?  Is it when you become so debilitated that you cannot make it into the office any longer?  Do you destroy your body, soul and psyche in order to prove a point of loyalty?

Fortunately, the law itself helps to frame the decision-making process.  As OPM Disability Retirement requires that certain age and time in-service criteria be met, and further, that the Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties,  some of the work necessary to “make a decision” has already been initiated in an “objective” manner.

In the end, however, even the child who first enters an ice cream shop and realizes that the world is not bifurcated into simplistic binary systems of “either-or”, but presents a multitude of endless summers of nuanced pathways to ecstatic completion, who must ultimately point to, and choose, between alternative compasses which will navigate one into the future of one’s contentedness, or dark chasms of dismay.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal & Federal Disability Retirement: Ritualistic Behavior

We persuade ourselves that only children play those games; of turning suddenly left, instead of right; of pretending to be asleep, only to unexpectedly open one’s eyes to test the reality of our surroundings; and other discordant acts in an effort to defy the predetermination of fate, as if the karmic principles governing the universe are subject to the vicissitudes of private thoughts.  But the anomaly of the unexpected is that, once a pattern of disjointed behavior itself becomes a monotony of the routine, the corridors of ritualistic behavior become entrenched and often prevents one from taking steps necessary to step outside of the proverbial box.

Conventional thought processes can themselves become ritualistic; thus do we believe that by neglect or avoidance, medical conditions will just “go away”; or that the increasing hostility and initiation of adverse actions by an agency will cease if we just “ignore” them; or if we just continue maintaining a semblance of competency, the incompetents will recognize and acknowledge the superiority of motives, and desist from the constancy of interruptive actions.  Such ritualistic behavior, however, has little to no impact upon the reality of the world, no more than when the child in us attempted to defy fate and the karmic gods which rule the universe.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, the route of exit from the madness of the universe is to file 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.  The plain fact is, no one cares for one’s health or well-being except the person who suffers from the medical condition, as well (one would hope) one’s family and spouse.

Reflection upon the priorities of life must always be reengaged; and continuing onward with vestiges of child-like ritualistic behavior, against all sanity telling us that things will not change despite our best efforts, will only prolong the agony and the angst of life’s unfairness.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is available for those Federal or Postal employees who can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, and while continuation with one’s agency or the U.S. Postal Service may be a laudatory goal revealing an undying sense of loyalty, it is the dying portion of our better selves which whispers the lie that ritualistic behavior can alter the course of human history within the microcosmic universe of karmic incantations.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire