Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: The Beast of Burden

The burden is undertaken by those have little choice in the matter, but who willingly submit to the responsibility and obligation.  Traditionally, the “beast of burden” (other than being a Rolling Stone song) refers to a somewhat-domesticated animal, perhaps a donkey or an ox, who must bear the weight of man’s work.

In law, the “burden” is one of proof — of the affirmative obligation to present one’s facts, persuasive argumentation based upon such facts, and the application of the relevant law which supports both the facts and the arguments.  The “other side” in the litigation has no burden at all, and can simply sit and do nothing, if he or she so chooses, and see whether or not the plaintiff, the appellant or the Federal Disability Retirement applicant has submitted sufficient proof such that he or she has met his/her burden of proof.

As the weight placed upon a beast of burden is often heavy and demanding, so in a similar vein the litigant who has the burden of proof should always expect to exceed what is “necessary” in any given case.  For the Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is indeed a heavy burden to bear in order to meet the legal criteria of a Federal bureaucracy who has the unmitigated power and authority to approve or deny.

The burden of proof — it is as heavy as that which we place upon a beast of burden, and the weight of such responsibility can overwhelm us, lest we have the reserve of strength to plod onward.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: The Paradigm of Persuasion

In graduate school, the undersigned attorney once presented a paper on a comparative analysis involving a Chinese philosopher.  At the end of the presentation, the professor asked a question pointedly:  “Is there such a thing as Chinese philosophy?”

The question, of course, went straight to the traditional paradigm underpinning Western philosophical thought:  of logical analysis; of syllogistic, Aristotelian methodology; of, “If A, then B”, etc. — as opposed to short, concise, declarative statements illustrating history, community, context and wisdom.

In other words, the difference between persuasion as a methodology in a universal sense, applied across any and all cultural lines, as opposed to the micro-application of wisdom within a given community.  For, in either sense, it is ultimately wisdom after which we seek.

There is, indeed, a tradition in Western Philosophy, beginning with the Pre-Socratics, onward through Plato, Aristotle, the Medievals, to the present where deconstructionism has essentially inversely cannibalized philosophy, in which the issue of what constitutes a persuasive argument must be questioned.

Can a paternalistic declaration of wisdom prevail in a debate?  Is a mere assertion of truth enough to convince?  In any legal context, one must systematically present one’s case with facts and “the law”.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, one must take care and follow the traditional rules of persuasive argumentation.  In a family, the rule of Mom and Dad may prevail; in a community, a Confucius-like paternalism may be effective; in the arena of law, one must take care and systematically present a persuasive, logically coherent argument.

Only by following in such a methodology of persuasion can one expect success in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: The Impersonal File

Creative writing courses almost always fall back on an old adage:  Show, don’t tell.  Such a simple advisory truism, while trite and overly simplistic, applies in so many aspects of what constitutes effective writing — whether for fiction, journalism (is there a difference between the two?), or in Federal Disability Retirement (the latter, of course, is a completely separate genre from the former two).

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important to apply all of the learned, effective tools of writing, in confronting every stage, every administrative hurdle, every step in the bureaucratic, administrative process.

In approaching a treating doctor:  remember that doctors are quite effective in compartmentalizing patients — separating a patient emotionally from the patient’s file; the cold, clinical approach of treating a medical condition without becoming “personally involved” is what a doctor is trained to do.  Thus, in obtaining the support of one’s treating doctor, it is important to break that silent wall of bifurcation, and often, simply sitting down with the doctor and explaining, talking, “personalizing”, is an important first step.

Another example:  the Applicant’s Statement of Disability.  That statement is the window to OPM’s soul.  It is the means and vehicle by which and through which one persuades the Case Worker at OPM that one has a medical condition which prevents one from performing the essential elements of one’s job.

Writing it well is the route to success.  Showing, and not merely telling.  Old adages tend to live on forever, because the truth inherent and embedded in them continue to thrive.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Facts, Proof & Truth

In a perfect universe, the conceptual distinction between facts, proof & truth would be non-existent:  facts would in and of themselves prove X, and the truth of the factual proof would be self-evident.  But this is neither a perfect world, nor one in which recognition or acknowledgement of true, proven facts are conceded easily.  Other human factors intercede:  self-motivation; possible unspoken quota system (did he really say that?); misapplication of a standard or legal criteria; lack of knowledge; lack of training to be able to recognize the distinction, difference, and intersecting significance of the three, etc.  As such, because we occupy an imperfect world, it is important to understand the conceptual distinction between the three.

In preparing, formulating, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, many Federal and Postal employees approach the administrative process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits as if merely stating the “facts”, however compelling and substantively emotive, will “prove” the “truth” of the applicant’s statement of disability. But “facts” are merely the substratum (to borrow Aristotelian language) of the methodological process of effective argumentation; they must be proven to the Office of Personnel Management, and such proof must be persuasive to a level where the reviewing individual at OPM is persuaded of the truth of such proof.

The key to persuasiveness, of course, is argumentation; and argumentation must involve validity based upon an objective methodology, a logical and sequential statement of relevant facts, and (in the case of an administrative process such as Federal Disability Retirement) reference to statutes, regulations and case-law which provide the foundational reference-point for establishing eligibility.  Human beings are by definition imperfect constructs.  Slightly above the apes (although that is debatable), and certainly lower than the angels (that is not in dispute), one must therefore recognize that facts must be proven, and the truth of such proven facts must be asserted.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Appearance versus Substance

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under either FERS or CSRS, from the Office of Personnel Management, one often overlooks the basic, foundational questions needed to have answered in the preliminary stages of a Federal Disability Retirement case.

The fact that one has a medical condition which impacts one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job is a “given” — i.e., a fact that then prompts or initiates the entire procedure of even contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

To proceed from that “given”, however, requires further insight and questioning — more of a practical nature, as in:  What are the essential elements of my job?  Do I have doctors who view my medical condition in the same way as I do?  More importantly, will my doctors support me in my quest to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS?  How will I explain to them the very processes and procedures, of the legal and medical requirements which must be met in preparing a medical report, such that the medical narrative report will meet those legal requirements?  Do I have the resources ready in order to sustain a protracted administrative battle with the Office of Personnel Management?  Will my agency allow me to continue to work while I engage in this application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits?

These are all serious and substantive questions — ones which go beyond the mere appearance of thinking that preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, is merely a matter of “filling out forms“.

It never is, and just as “substance” differs from “appearance” (which is the entire philosophical basis of the Socratic and dialectical tradition of Western Philosophy), so the questions one asks at the outset of the process is important in determining the substantive nature of one’s quest.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Collateral Source Impact

The persuasive impact from collateral sources can take one of two primary forms:  legal or medical.  In fighting for one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, it is becoming more and more apparent that the Office of Personnel Management is taking a very aggressive approach at evaluating each Federal Disability Retirement application.  

Whether this is a change in administrative policy — and no one knows or can find out, because only OPM possesses internal statistical findings of how many approvals versus rejections they have issued, year by year, over the past decade, and whether there is a significant change — or merely a “sense” by the undersigned writer; or, just as probable, there is a growing carelessness and lack of proper scrutiny because of a rush to catch up, resulting from the growing backlog of cases; whatever the multitude of reasons, it is important to utilize every tool available to the Federal or Postal worker in an effort to win one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  

Collateral sources of administrative determinations and medical conclusions, whether they originate from OWCP/DOL Second Opinion reports; SSDI determinations and the medical records and reports upon which they are based; VA rating increases, as well as findings from the VA disability determinations; military board findings; Agency determinations, including results from “Fitness for Duty” examinations; other “Independent Medical Examinations” — all constitute collateral sources of evidentiary relevance, depending upon a careful scrutiny of each piece of such evidence.  

It is unwise to include everything; everything must be reviewed prior to submission; collateral legal determinations should be justified with legal arguments and precedents; medical determinations should be carefully noted as part of the Federal Disability Retirement packet.  Federal and Postal workers who are filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS should use every means available, including collateral sources, both for legal as well as medical evidence, in the quest to win an approval from the Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire