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

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: How truly ordinary we are

Every now and again, someone will make that inane statement that seems to fly by in a discourse of overwhelming linguistic overcrowding of so many such pearls of wisdom:  “Oh, we’re all just human.”  Is it a logical tautology in a strict sense?  The “we” referred to is obviously a subject which includes individual human beings; the “human” described and identified, is the same as the “we” previously posited.  So, it is the same as saying:  “Oh, humans are all just human.”

If that were said, instead, would we not turn with a puzzled look of suspicion, as if the statement made was uttered in such a nonsensical term that the meeting of eyes would, or at least should, erupt with uncontrollable laughter like two hyenas cackling at the full moon?  Or, despite the inane nature of meaninglessness, do we all have a shared cultural norm of language, such that we recognize and comprehend such statements?  For, the sentence itself evokes meanings of shared belief: We are all less than perfect; Don’t worry about it, we all do that from time to time; The ordinariness of human frailty allows for each to give another the benefit of the doubt.

It also points to a slightly deeper meaning:  That, in our humanity, how truly ordinary we are.  Yet, isn’t that very ordinariness that which allows for the shared commonality of community?  The fact that we are ordinary is precisely what allows us all to “fit in”, and concurrently, touches upon that darker side of human nature to spur cruelty, arrogance, superiority and disdain.  For, it is the Darwinian predisposition to conquer and defeat, of “showing up” everyone else that we are what we are not created as – being ordinary.

That is why, when a medical condition is revealed, it is the weakness and the vulnerability that suddenly causes others to shy away, to shun, and to harass and prey upon.  Our ordinariness, in combination with the scientifically and anthropologically explained behavior traits of “survival instincts” and aggressive, predatory inclinations, somewhat defines why we are who we are and how, in a society that supposedly advances continually, we still revert back to your roots of caveman-like follies.

Medical conditions depict our ordinariness.  Manifested medical conditions attract the predatory inclinations within, like predisposed genetic and cellular triggers that cannot be stopped.

That is what Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition triggers a need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, need to understand:  That we our human; our humanness reveals vulnerabilities; that such vulnerabilities will manifest themselves in quite ordinary revelations, including medical conditions; and, once medical conditions are revealed, it will likely trigger aggressive and predatory reactions, and attract those very hominids who, by Darwinian triggers of genetic predispositions, will react in an attempt to rise above our humanity.

Agencies act that way; the U.S. Postal Service certainly treats it employees in that thread of behavioral responsiveness.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, keep in mind that, in filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, how truly ordinary we are is merely another way of recognizing that not only are we just human, but we can also reveal that dark side inherent in all in the rise to subvert just how truly ordinary we are, which only further uncovers how truly ordinary they are, as well.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement from Federal Service: The cultural compass

The aggregate of knowledge as amassed by any given society does not constitute a unique culture, identifiable as distinct from all others; otherwise, as general knowledge is disseminated throughout and across national and international zones of distinguishing features, all cultures would remain the same.  Culture precedes knowledge, and is the driving force which specifies the direction of it.  The relevance; the choice between what is accepted and subsumed; the normative constraints and demarcations which preserve the very distinctiveness of any given culture; these are what focuses the idiosyncrasies of the preserve.

One may query, as in the question, Which came first, the chicken or the egg?  But that is a nonsensical approach to any such issue; for, the answer is that, in the prefatory phase of cultural origination, when language and analysis did not necessitate a reflection upon the loss of either culture or knowledge, there was a symbiotic relationship where each fed into the other and enhanced in a self-reflective manner; it is only in this time of modernity, when an evaluation of the loss and destruction of culture is occurring, that such a question is even posited.

An addendum observation to be made, of course, is that information does not constitute knowledge, and thus cannot define the distinctiveness of a culture.  All cultures retain and accumulate information; some cultures have been able to preserve distinctive knowledge; the ones which rely merely upon the aggregate of the former are fast becoming extinct and subsumed by the juggernaut of the Internet, where lines of distinguishable features become lost in the widening chasm of the vacuum void; it is only the remaining enclaves that recognize the importance of the latter which will survive in this Brave New World of Huxley’s predictable outcome.

Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, of course, understand full well the uniqueness of their own “culture”; for, the bureaucracy of service, in an industry which looks after the protection of the country, providing for administrative, regulatory and social services throughout the nation; of the receipt and delivery of letters, parcels and packages throughout the country and beyond; it is, in the end, a unique subculture within the greater society of the country.

And it retains and applies a distinctive set of knowledge, disconnected in many ways from the rest of society, and thus comprises a definitive “culture”.  But even such a subculture can lose its “cultural compass”, and this can be seen when a fellow worker, whether a Federal employee or a U.S. Postal worker, begins to suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition leads to the necessity of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

That is when the “ugliness” of a culture uniquely identified can come to the fore, and reveal its inner nature of wickedness.  When fellow support fails to empathize; when coworkers turn on each other; when supervisors begin to harass and demean; such behavior tends to denigrate the entirety of a cultural compass which has lost its way, and preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted ultimately to OPM, is a way not of preserving the cultural compass left behind, but recognizing that the direction pointed had gone awry, and corrective action necessitated a reorientation of leaving behind the twilight of past darkness, and into a dawn of greater opportunities.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: Out to Pasture

There is a natural proclivity by the previous generation to resist the transference of authority before its designated time; the conflict arises not as to the inevitability of such change, but rather as to the appropriate context, procedural mechanisms instituted, and the care and sensitivity manifested.  And that is often the crux of the matter, is it not?

The brashness and lack of diplomacy and propriety; the insensitive nature of youth in trying to take over before paying one’s proper dues; and a sense that the young are owed something, without paying the necessary price through sweat and toil.  And the older generation?  From the perspective of the young, they are often seen as intractable, unable to face the reality of the inevitability of generational transfer; the ideas once seen as new and innovative are mere fodder for laughter and scorn.

Such treatment of those on their “way out” are often given similar application for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who show a need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Such employees are viewed as those being “put out to pasture”, and as something less than human, partial in their worth, lacking of completeness, and needing to be shoved aside to make room for the healthy and fully productive.

Resentment often reigns; the insensitivity of the approach of agencies in their bureaucratic indifference is often what prevails; and once the exit is complete, those who were once the warriors and conquerors of yesteryear, are mere vestiges of forgotten remembrances of dissipating dew.

Always remember, however, that there is another perspective than the one which is left behind.  For the Federal or Postal employee who is put out to pasture by one’s agency, there is new ground to break, fresh challenges to embrace.  The pasture that one enters need not be the same one that the former agency considers; it is the one which the Federal or Postal Disability Retirement annuitant plows for himself, and whatever the thoughts and scornful mutterings of that agency left behind, they now have no control over the future of the Federal or Postal employee who has the freedom to follow the pasture of his or her limitless dreams.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire