Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Implications

Merely putting a ‘thus’ or ‘therefore’ does not create the necessary nexus between the facts proffered, the evidence presented and the conclusion declared; implications by definition require some work on the part of the audience, as the bridge not explicitly apparent must by necessity mandate mental connections to be drawn from otherwise disparate fields of facts.

How far can the law be stretched?  For so-called “originalists”, it is allegedly only the plain meaning of the text itself that can be gleaned, without any further “interpretation” beyond what is “originally intended”.  But lawyers go beyond the central meaning of legal opinions all the time; it is the job of a good attorney to stretch the application beyond what is originally meant or intended; and it is up to the next judge before whom such argumentation is tested to place limits and boundaries when the proposed stretch has gone a bridge too far.

How far, for example, can the “Bruner Argument” be made in a Federal Disability Retirement case?  Can the fact of a separation based upon “excessive absences” be used to demand of OPM that the Bruner Presumption should be applied, especially when parallel facts clearly establish that during the same time period of taking exhaustive Sick Leave and excessive LWOP, the Federal or Postal employee had multiple doctor’s appointments and was medically advised not to go to work?  Of course, arguments can always be made — but the real point is, Can one make an effective and persuasive argument?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, those conclusions by implication need to be carefully crafted.  For, while you may see the bridges connecting the two or more land masses that are otherwise separated by the rivers and tributaries, it is up to the applicant in an OPM Disability Retirement case to make explicit and obvious those implications that may otherwise be lost in the administrative morass of complexities inherent in every Federal Disability Retirement case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney for OPM Disability Retirement Claims: The gist of it all

When do we want the “gist” of something?  The essence or the “main idea”; or to filter it into the short version, somewhat like the “spark notes” of the thing of which we seek.  Is it appropriate if a student is sitting through a boring lecture and raises his or her hand and asks politely, “I have an activity to attend this afternoon. Can you just give us the gist of what you’re trying to say?”

Or of the greater meaning of life itself — you know, that grand design that everyone is seeking, which is why so many people believe in such things as the “Da Vinci Code” or, more recently, “The Chamberlain Key” — codes to codices that reveal the heart of ancient secrets lost in the trash heaps of history or otherwise forgotten because of wars, famines and changes of the proverbial guards.

Why is it that such “keys” must always be “ancient”, and shrouded in the mystery of “secret societies” who will murder in the dead of night to protect the gist of it all?  How does that reflect upon modernity — that we are too superficial to invent or discover such codes?  Or, is it merely that the cynicism of scientism and the reliance upon the physical universe, the influence of British Logical Positivism and the Age of Science have all subsumed such romanticizing of mysteries beyond the age of reason?

In this fast-paced society where technology surpasses by lightening speed the insular world of secret societies and the unraveling of veiled codices, what we want in the end is the gist of it all — to bypass the tangential details and get to the heart of the matter.  We have little or no time for anything else.

So, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer 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 one’s Federal or Postal job, what is the gist of it all?  In other words, what is the essence of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity?

Well, to begin with, under FERS (which most people are, as the dinosaur of CSRS or even CSRS Offset have now been relegated to the Pleistocene Era of Federal employment) the Federal or Postal employee must have at least 18 month of Federal Service.  Second, we must be able to prove that a medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing at least one, if not more, of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job.  And third, the medical condition must last a minimum of 12 months.

Now, this latter bit of a requirement is often confused with thinking that a Federal or Postal worker must therefore wait for at least 12 months after the onset of a medical condition before the Federal or Postal employee can file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  No, that is not the case — for, most doctors and treating medical professionals can render a prognosis as to the chronicity of the medical condition, and that is all that is needed.

Of course, that is precisely the problem of getting merely the “gist of it all” — because, in the end, the annotated version of an important text, issue or pool of information can rarely be filtered down into a cup that can be gulped with one swallow, but is often an ocean full of undercurrents and dangers consumed with sharks, whales and stingrays — sort of like the metaphor of life itself, only more complex because preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application is a complicated administrative process full of bureaucratic pitfalls that cannot ultimately be confined by the gist of it all.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: The distant bark

A lone dog barks in the distance.  We cannot determine where, or even from what direction, but the echo of wailing, sometimes of whimpering, reverberates like a mist in the early morning that quietly pervades but can never be grasped.  Perhaps it persists, and we leave the safety of our own home in search of the cry, as the forlorn sounds made wavers between a spectrum of hurt, pain, loneliness or urgency of need; no matter the reason, the bark is desperate.

We begin the journey in one direction, but suddenly the winds of voices heard shifts, and we believe it may be coming from a completely different direction.  We shift course and walk in the exact opposite direction. The barking continues, now with greater tones of reverberating alarm, drifting from over there, somewhere out there, never to be determined.  The barking stops.  You pause, listen; but only the quietude of the midnight air breaks the stillness of the echo that now sounds within one’s imagination.

You begin to doubt yourself; was it my own fears, my own fantasy?  Did the sound ever break upon the dawn of objective reality, or was it something that originated from deep within my own needs and wants?  You go home.  Then, a few minutes later, after turning off the lights and drifting off into the slumber of night’s call, a lone dog barks in the distance.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer 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 job, that Federal or Postal employee is the distant bark, and the help that never arrives reflects the situation that so often describes the events that unfold.  Federal Disability Retirement, as the analogy may be stretched, is the person who reaches out to try and find the source of the barking.  Failing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is the metaphor where the searching man and the barking dog never meet.

Federal Disability Retirement is not just another “benefit” or a “give-away”; rather, it is part of the employment package that the Federal or Postal worker signed on to, and once obtained, allows for the Federal or Postal worker who is on disability retirement to pursue other careers and vocations, and more importantly, to focus upon regaining one’s health in the process by being separated from the work that has become problematic in the meantime.

And like the lone dog that barks in the distance, the Federal or Postal employee who fails to take the next step by not preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, will end up like the dog that wails pitifully deep into the recesses of midnight regrets.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Outward appearance, inward thoughts

It is, of course, the core of Western thought, originating from Socratic arguments against placing one’s faith in the “appearance” of things as opposed to the Platonic Forms that represent true Being; and through Aristotelian arguments of a “substratum” that underlies the outward appearance, to the certitude of Cogito, ergo sum; then, the inner reliance where subjectivity and objectivity coalesce and the distinctions became undoable by Wittgenstein’s standards of banishing all Philosophical problems to mere linguistic confusion, and the belittling scoffs of Russell’s mischievous analysis; these, and many more in the history of contemplative reflection that has haunted the aggregate of outward appearance versus inward thoughts.

All of which brings us to the core of so many medical conditions – where so much cannot be seen and we often have to “exaggerate” just to get people to believe us.  Take “pain”, as an example – one can be in excruciating pain, and yet remain unemotional about it.  Even if an MRI result shows that there is a physical basis for which the pain is experienced, nevertheless, pain by definition is a subjective component, and cannot publicly be quantified.

That is why conditions such as Fibromyalgia, Chronic pain syndrome, Failed Back Syndrome, not to even mention Major Depression, Anxiety, panic attacks, etc. – how does one persuade others of the “real-ness” of the condition?  Broken bones, malignant tumors, catastrophic injuries; these, inward thoughts (believability) are consistent with outward appearance.

There is, in the end, a distinction with a difference that must be acknowledged, between “having a medical condition” and “proving a medical condition” – especially when it comes to preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.  There are, moreover, certain factors that “favor” the Federal Disability Retirement applicant – such as the standard of proof (Preponderance of the Evidence, as opposed to higher legal standards out there); the weight and validity of a treating doctor’s opinion; and certain clinical evidence that moves the chess pieces beyond mere subjective opinion, thereby bridging the gap between outward appearance and inward thoughts.

Preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application requires more than just gathering a pile of medical documents and submitting it. In the end, the Federal Disability Retirement applicant must PROVE one’s case, in order to get beyond mere outward appearance and inward thoughts.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement from Federal Employment: Magnum Opus

It is applied as the masterpiece and pinnacle of achievement, but is more generally referred to as the identifying crown for an individual of some notable accomplishment in the various fields and disciplines.  There are looser forms of using the term, of course, in common parlance, in a half-joking, half-serious manner; as in referring to one’s spouse with greater humility, or events that occurred with greater consequences than expected or foreseen.  Like Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D Minor or Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”, the Magnum Opus represents the pinnacle of one’s achievement in the career of a chosen field, or within a discipline one was merely destined for.

Most of us, of course, never reach that height of human achievement recognized and lauded by a standard of excellence the world around; mediocrity is the lot of most, and that is okay, so long as the achievements made within the confines of private lives are accorded a similar standard striving to reflect the apex of human worth.  For, the Magnum Opus can be in the simple act of kindness in daily living – of bringing in the garbage can of an elderly neighbor too frail to wander out on a snow-fallen morning, or giving a shelter animal a chance at some semblance of happiness and contentment, and diminishing the violent memories of prior mistreatment and maltreatment.

In the end, it is not the marking of graves with epitaphs of grandeur that matter – though we may fantasize of jealousy and envy overwhelming relatives we disliked, visiting the tombstone of our own creation and smirking at the largesse accorded by a public never quite knowing but the public figure of accomplishments we deign to applaud – but of unmarked ones that are visited by a family left behind, empty with an aching heart for the laughter that we brought, the joy we helped enliven, and the fleeting moment of happiness that encompassed the otherwise dreary lot of a population confused between sex and love.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who has believed that the Magnum Opus of one’s fortunes were somehow tied up inextricably in the career path of a Federal agency or Postal facility, rethinking the paradigm is tantamount to a heretical utterance of unfathomable delay.  There is life beyond a Federal agency’s mission (though you may not discern it well from the attitudes of coworkers and Supervisors), and there is importance and relevance beyond the Postal facility one has worked for.

When a medical condition comes to a point where one cannot meet the expectations of that grand “mission” that has been a constant drone of contention, it might be time to consider preparing, formulating and filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  Don’t let the Magnum Opus of one’s career be on the downturn of one’s accomplishments because blind fealty to an agency or the U.S. Postal Service has stopped any forward progress; instead, it may be for the next phase of one’s life that the unmarked grave is visited upon with an epitaph still to be written.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Exchanging pleasantries

Some possess the greater patience for it, and enthusiastically embrace the inherent gamesmanship and accompanying pleasures derived therefrom; while others merely forego even the most basic of such prefatory considerations and condescending patronization that commonly attaches.  Still others mechanically, thoughtlessly and with automated responsiveness, emit the utterances with aplomb and a wave of hands, never pausing to even consider the discourteousness of violating that fragile sheen of neighborly discourse.

— “Hello, how are you.”
An introductory glance inviting suspicion and possible rebuttal

—  “Fine weather, isn’t it?”
Can a mere nod be sufficient?

—  “Hello!”

Can we get by this person with silence?

Have we become more cynical as a whole, and have the constant warnings by governmental agencies concerning scams, frauds and insincere malfeasance taken its toll?  Or, are there still visiting angels among us, whom we ignore at our own peril?

Are there exceptional salutations that demand a presence of mind, or do they all fit into a mold of complacent irrelevancy?  “Merry Christmas”, or its more neutral form of “Happy Holidays”, and even “Happy New Year” – is it the occasion itself which is evocative of a positive response, or does the Scrooge that lives within each of us allow for a grunt and a nod?  When exchanging pleasantries becomes reduced to a mere foresight of impending hostility, does it lose its efficacy, or is the “break-down” of superficial civility revealed in the acrid intonation of a voice which fails to match the salutation itself?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have come to expect the common resources of exchanging pleasantries, the line of demarcation where civility devolves into acrimony and harassment often boils to the surface when the Federal or Postal employee begins to become less productive as a result of a medical condition that prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties.  Whether under FERS, CSRS of CSRS Offset, it is often a good indicator of things to come, and thus it is important to gain a “step ahead” by preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Time was that exchanging pleasantries was always taken for granted; but for the Federal or Postal employee who is witnessing the deterioration not just of one’s own health, but the superficial health of common decency and discourse with coworkers, managers and supervisors – it may be time to exchange those pleasantries with a reality check, and begin preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement from Federal Government Employment: Perspective

It is a different species from either judgment or understanding; for, of the former, it is often the basis and foundation to make one; as to the latter, it is the result from the procedural content in order to attain it.  Perspective is an admixture of multiple components:  experience adds to a balance of it; proper facts relate to the accuracy for it; consideration of judgments others proffer enriches it; and the capacity to connect all of the information gathered and provide previously unimagined ties within a historicity of intersection, relevance and significance of balance empowers it.

To possess it is to fail to react merely to a given situation while others around disintegrate in self-pity.  To apply it, is to become uplifted as a paradigm for others to follow, and to integrate the fusion between past, present and projection into future courses of action.  For, in the end, to have a proper “perspective” is nothing more than to realize the “now” in light of past experience and apply it to future predictability.  But what if the human constitution does not always allow for identical natures inherent to all?  Why do some lack it, while others are deemed to be forever secure in wisdom and reliance?  Solomon is reputed to have possessed it; the women who approached him, lacked it; and the audience surrounding had no clue of it.

In law, generally, it is the tactician who can strategize by means of understanding the applicability of precedents relevant to a given case, and if it goes before a Hearing or a Trial, to incite the emotional empathy of jurors and the sense of justice uncommonly deviated from the Judge’s aplomb of impervious fortitude that wins the day.  In Federal Disability Retirement law, perspective is often needed in order to make the right kind of judgments throughout the administrative process of preparing, formulating and filing 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.

Having the “wrong” perspective – first, about filing at all, and second, about the administrative process and procedural hurdles itself – can result with inaction leading to detrimental consequences.  Possessing and applying the “right” perspective encompasses a wide range of issues:  whether to file; when to file; how to file; what evidentiary annotations of facts, argumentation and laws should be included in order to implement the most effective pathway to an approval of the Federal Disability Retirement application.

Perspective:  it is something that legal counsel and experience of advice can provide within a framework of a time in one’s life when it is sorely lacking.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire