OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: Stress in the Federal Workplace

Stress is a natural and inherent part of everyday and ordinary life.

For the Federal and Postal employee who is considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, one needs to always consider its form, content, extent and significance of inclusion in a Federal Disability Retirement application.

As a primary diagnosis, such an inclusion can be considered as merely “situational“, precisely because stress is a factor seen in workplace contexts across the board. As a secondary manifestation of another primary diagnoses, the danger of having the condition relegated to being a situational condition immediately disappears.

Whether the conceptual construct is used as a noun or as a working verb may appear to be merely a linguistically elastic play — a Wittgensteinian language game of sorts — but it is precisely what must be engaged in for a successful preparation and formulation of a Federal Disability Retirement application.

For, in the end, a Federal Disability Retirement application is a paper presentation to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, encompassing a wide spectrum of descriptions, arguments and factual/legal analysis; and such is the nature of a language game, where the conversion of nouns into working verbs may be the difference between success or failure in a Federal OPM Disability Retirement claim.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Connective Tissues in Federal Disability Claims

In biology, they are often discussed in contrast to epithelial tissues, which are closely packed cells for dense, often protective purposes.  As the attribution implies, the primary purpose of such tissues is to connect other tissues or organs, for the coordinated and compound workings of the entirety of the organic system.

It is that very connection which allows for the coordination of the whole, and while each individual organ or aggregate of cells may be vital to the life of the entity, without the connective tissues, such individual significance would never reach a level of integral compound complexity of a working singularity.  Individual significance, without the connective support, would result in independent value; and it is the dependency of individual values which in their “togetherness” work to constitute an integrated system.

We can learn much from biology.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the Disability, Reconsideration & Appeals Division (U.S. Office of Personnel Management), whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, it is important to always recognize the connective tissues which must be carefully recognized and evaluated for their integrated purposes.  For, in the end, that is what the reviewing agency of all Federal Disability Retirement applications — the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, or OPM — does. OPM reviews and evaluates all Federal Disability Retirement applications with a particular view towards analyzing the connective tissues, for integration, consistency and lack of contradiction.

While each “organ” of a CSRS or FERS Disability Retirement application may be vital to the entirety of the administrative process, it is precisely the connective tissues which, if diseased, will determine the viability of the working whole.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: A Bridge Too Far

It is an indelible comment in history, marking a failure of calculations resulting in catastrophic consequences in the unwise attempt to quickly end the war.  As a tactical consideration, the attempt to outflank German defenses by securing key bridges in order to isolate the enemy, constituted a brilliant idea; in practical application, the unconfirmed attribution of the comment that the Allied Forces may be going “a bridge too far” proved to be the very downfall of such a bold military strategy.

M-2 Treadway Pontoon Bridge under construction across the Po River near Ostiglia (National Archives)

M-2 Treadway Pontoon Bridge under construction across the Po River near Ostiglia (National Archives)

Bridges represent vital and necessary supply lines between two entities, organizations, populations, and even ideas.  They allow for the free flow of supplies and communication; they constitute the “lifeline” between two otherwise disparate groups.  It is such a bridge, or “nexus”, which is similarly of great importance in all formulations of Federal Disability Retirement applications. For the Federal or Postal Worker who is preparing to submit a Federal Disability Retirement application through one’s agency (if still employed by the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, or otherwise separated but not more than 31 days since the effective date of separation), and ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, making sure that the “bridge” between one’s medical condition and the impact upon the positional duties of one’s job is a vital and necessary part of the process.

Like physical bridges which connect various populations, the nexus which brings together the Federal Disability Retirement application in a FERS or CSRS submission, will determine the very persuasiveness of one’s presentation to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  A bridge which is inadequate will fail to establish that the medical condition impacts one’s capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal position; and one which overextends itself may raise red flags of overreaching and exaggeration, undermined by a Supervisor’s Statement or the Agency’s contention that they have attempted to accommodate an individual to a legally viable degree.

While a 1-to-1 ratio of a medical condition-to-an-essential element is unnecessary in establishing eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits (see my multiple articles on the Henderson case), nevertheless, a linguistic construction of an adequate bridge between the two must be firmly established.

In the end, as with the Allied attempt to swiftly conclude the war resulted in the unnecessary cost of human lives, so one must take care in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, such that one does not go “a bridge too far” in making one’s case in a Federal Disability Retirement claim.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: Substantive versus Linguistic Redefinition

Once the acceptance of dissociative dichotomy between language and the objective world became entrenched, the path of ease with which to tinker with language in order to adeptly fit language to reality (i.e., redefine words, concepts and meanings) became a simple next step in the process.

There are, of course, limitations.  A rock thrown and shattering a bottle is difficult to avoid, no matter how much linguistic gymnastics may be engaged.  For reality-based situations which must encounter the language game, one cannot come closer to the correspondence necessary than when one encounters a medical condition.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who must confront the reality of a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s life, livelihood and future financial security, the reality of the importance of “getting it right” is never more certain.

Often, the question is asked on a purely linguistic level: Will medical condition-X qualify me?  That is the wrong question.

For, Federal Disability Retirement, whether under FERS or CSRS, filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the question must be asked in an alternative manner, because the entire process of proving one’s case is unlike Social Security Disability and other forums.

In those “other” criteria, the identification of the medical condition itself — i.e., the linguistic identification of the issue — will often be enough to determine qualification criteria.  But for Federal Disability Retirement purposes, it is the direct encounter and confrontation between language and reality which must be faced and embraced: Not “what” identified medical condition, but rather, “how” the medical condition impacts, in the real world, the essential elements of one’s job and how one can adequately perform them.

Thus, Federal Disability Retirement cannot avoid the correspondence between language and reality; it is that very question touching upon the nexus between language (the identified medical condition) and reality (how that medical condition impacts the physical or cognitive ability of the worker to engage in the world) which must be answered.  Thus, no matter what linguistic deconstructionists declare: language does require a correspondence with reality, and truth does still matter despite the hard-fought and persistent attempts to otherwise make irrelevant that which we all accept in the everyday world.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Theory of Correspondence

20th Century Philosophy has witnessed the steady progression of deconstruction; of centuries of attempting to answer age-old questions which challenged the mind, only to be declared that it was, all throughout, the question which was the problem, and the imprecise manner of communication through language difficulties and conceptual confusions that created the unfathomable difficulties, and that therefore there are no substantive problems in philosophy to solve.

Bertrand Russell, the entire tradition of English Empiricism, and long comes Wittgenstein; and any theory of correspondence between language and the “objective” world was cast aside as being impractical, unendurable, and in the end, untrue — though, as truth itself became an empty concept, it remained a puzzle as to how such a declarative end could be proposed.

But it was ultimately the devaluing of correspondence which became most troubling; for, now, as there was and is no connection between language and reality, so an individual can do and say one thing, and be and remain another. Perhaps that is why Facebook, Twitter and electronic media are so popular; we have become who we merely declare we are.

That is often the insidious nature of a medical condition; when once it becomes known, we want to ignore it, conceal it, and think it away; but somehow the physical reality of one’s life cannot be erased so easily as words on paper, or through the use of a ‘delete’ button.

Medical conditions really do impact us; and if the Federal or Postal employee finds him/herself beset with a medical condition such that it prevents one from performing the essential elements of one’s job, then the reality of a career’s end and a change of vocation is one which is beyond mere words. But words and completing forms are what must be performed in formulating, preparing and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS.

So, in the end, the integrity of correspondence occurs, despite what modern philosophy says — there is still, and will always be, a connection between language and reality, and that is clear and unavoidable for the Federal and Postal employee who must attempt to maneuver one’s way through the bureaucracy and administrative procedures of a Federal Disability Retirement case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: The Magnifying Event

The notable characteristic of a medical condition is that they rarely go away via wishful thinking and, moreover, while rest may provide a restorative period of relief, the return to performing activities which further exacerbate one’s condition further magnifies not only the chronicity and severity of the condition, but the need for additional restorative periods of relief.

That is why, in a Federal Disability Retirement case, the focus is upon the nexus between one’s medical condition and the essential elements of one’s job.  For the former, the nexus pinpoints the type of medical condition by focusing upon the primary aspects of the work; for the latter, that very connection between the former and latter magnifies the impact of the medical condition and why it is that Federal Disability Retirement benefits are needed and justified.

Whether a person is on furlough during this temporary period of insanity, or whether one has previously taken an extraordinary amount of Sick Leave, Annual Leave, or Leave without Pay, is an irrelevant issue in the end; for, the very need to take such excessive time off, as well as the inverse issue of growing work performance questions, both are magnifying events of the same revelation:  the medical condition is further exacerbated by the continuation of certain activities, and the activities are progressively prevented by the medical conditions.

Preparing the steps to formulating an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, begins with the recognition that the ultimate answer lies not in the temporary and palliative nature of a week’s time off, but in the realization that one is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, for the long term.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire