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.


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.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Necessity of Explicit Redundancy

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important to submit material, at each and every turn possible and available, which repetitively and redundantly satisfies each of the legal criteria necessary to meet the eligibility requirements as espoused by the Office of Personnel Management.

Whether it is because the Case Worker at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management does not have the time (because of being overworked) to “read between the lines”, extrapolate or otherwise comprehend the implicit meaning of a statement; or the mechanical application of the “7-part” legal criteria is merely performed by comparing and contrasting the listed legal criteria to the substantive contents of the Federal Disability Retirement application — the reasons for the failure to understand the implicit (and sometimes explicit) import of the statements made are irrelevant.

Thus, for example, one would assume that if a medical narrative report states that the medical condition upon which a Federal Disability Retirement application is based, is considered to be a “permanent” medical condition, then one would implicitly understand that such a statement meets the criteria concerning the requirement that a medical condition must last for a minimum of 12 months in order to meet the eligibility criteria under the law.

However, “permanent” does not necessarily mean (apparently) “lasting for a minimum of 12 months”, and whether the interpretation is somehow lost because the words themselves do not perfectly conform, or because there is some nuance of meanings which only OPM is privileged to comprehend, is an irrelevancy.  What is relevant is to meet the legal criteria and the guidelines of the law.  As such, make sure and have the medical provider understand that language used must conform to the letter of the law — literally.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire