Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Assumptions and Presumptions

At what point does a house of cards collapse, when based upon assumptions and presumptions?  The words are used interchangeably; the slight conceptual distinctions may be of irrelevant import to justify differentiation.  One can perhaps quibble that assumptions point more toward the conclusory stage of an argument, whereas presumptions often involve the prefatory issues in a logical sequence of argumentation.

Both engage suppositions not based upon “facts”; and, of course, there is the problematic issue of what constitutes facts, as opposed to mere assertions of events and opinions derived from such facts and events; with the further compounding and confounding task of sifting through what was witnessed, what was thought to have been observed, when, who, the intersection between memory, event, and sequence of occurrences, etc.

Presumably (here we go using the very word which we are writing about, which is rather presumptuous to begin with), Bishop Berkeley would have allowed for either and both to be used in order to maneuver through the world without bumping into chairs and tables which, for him, were mere perceptual constructs in the subjective universe of “ideas” in the heads of individuals.  And Hume, for all of his logical deconstructionism concerning the lack of a “necessary connection” between cause and effect, would assume that, in the commonplace physical world we occupy, presumptions are necessary in order to begin the chain of sequential events. Waking up and walking down the stairs to get a cup of coffee, one need not wait for the necessary connection between thought and act in order to begin the day.

For Federal and Postal employees who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, proceeding through the administrative morass of one’s agency and ultimately into the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, based upon the dual deterrents of assumptions and presumptions, can be a harrowing experience.  It is not the factual basis which defeats a Federal Disability Retirement application filed with OPM; rather, it is always the baseless presumptions and assumptions which kill the successful outcome.

Medical facts must be established; narrative facts about the impact upon one’s inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job can be asserted; but it is always the connective presumptions and unintended assumptions which complicate and confuse. Always remember that a narrative based purely upon presumptions and assumptions cannot possibly exist without the concrete adhesives of some foundational facts; like a house of cards, it waits merely for the gods of chance to blow a puff of unforeseen breath to topple the structure that was built without an adequate foundation.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Relying on Common Sense

The problem of relying on “common sense” (as that term is often used and understood) is that such reliance not only reflects a presumption that one possesses that very quality that we deem and recognize as “common sense”, but further, that we assume that we have such sense to realize one possesses it, and additionally, that the person to whom such sense is applied also has it.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, it is indeed an arbitrary delegation and assignment of one’s case, that the Case Worker would possess that very quality in the process of evaluating, analyzing and reviewing the Federal Disability Retirement application.

Instead, what normally happens is that the OPM Case Worker mechanically applies a sheet containing the “7-part Legal Criteria” and determines whether or not a Federal Disability Retirement application satisfies each of the criteria.  But much of Federal Disability Retirement has to do with subtle implications and “reading between the lines” of a medical report, and coming to a “common sense” conclusion by extrapolating and actually analyzing the connection between one’s positional duties and one’s medical conditions, and determining whether or not an inconsistency exists.

Further, when the Bracey decision concerning the concept of “Accommodations” is considered, the issue of inconsistency between a Federal or Postal position and the medical condition can be viewed in a proper light and context, with greater clarity.  But to rely upon common sense — both in one’s self, and in someone else — is a dangerous assumption:  one which proves the old adage about making a donkey out of you and me.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire