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

 

Lawyer Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Cat’s Cradle

It is the complex game of strings wrapped around the small fingers and thumbs of each hand (or a modification of that contorted vestibule of human appendages), and where each player turns the cradle of the strings into greater complexity with each move by the other.

When children play it, the ease with which each turn of transforming the cradle of strings is a fascinating experience to witness.  When grown-ups do it — or, more accurately described, mess it up royally and invert the design into a an ugly bundle of irreversible entanglements that can no longer be played — the “overthinking” begins, the hesitation blockades and the uncertainty overwhelms.

It is always the grownups who mess up the beauty of the world’s designs, while children play it effortlessly, without conscious thought and with an innocence of proceeding that reveals much about what happens to an individual when you “grow up”.

Of course, we all have to grow up.  It is a sad inevitability.  That is why when the stunted individual who never quite got over his or her high school years, and still to this day talks about that grand finale of his senior year where the glory days of football, parties and friendships that were promised to last forever — that these frozen images yet remain so many years later as the pinnacle of one’s life and achievements — we shake our heads sadly and wonder at the fragile nature of man’s folly.

Cat’s cradle is the metaphor for much of life itself — of how simple childhood is, and yet so complex like the strings that bind the hands that create.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal job, the time to “think” about the next move — like the overthinking grownup who is asked to take the next step in the game of Cat’s Cradle — may seem complex because of its very simplicity.

There is the future to think about, and all that comes with it.  One’s career, health and future security are all entangled within the strings that wrap around and throughout one’s life, but the question that remains is similar to the conundrum of a Cat’s Cradle — is it you who will make sure that the next design of strings will turn out “right”, or will you leave it up to the Federal Agency or the Postal Service to determine your future course of actions?

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is a complex administrative process —much like the tangle of strings in a Cat’s Cradle —but it is the simplicity of deciding that will make all the difference as to whether the next move will be a successful one.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Past wrongs obsessed over

We cognitively compartmentalize, despite the fact that life doesn’t quite work that way.  Yet, if we do not categorize, relegate by priority of issues, the mirroring of the objective universe in a parallelism of societal constructs can result in the same messiness that life itself reveals.  We certainly do not want to manage and operate a household in the same way that nature works – where events can suddenly dictate emergencies, and when life and death decisions sound alarms whenever predators lurk about.

Reaction to the immediacy of necessity is how nature must operate; such an approach, however, is not always the best way for the office worker, the architect or the laborer to engage the projects of the day.  Yet, life sometimes requires reactive discourse and engagements; we cannot always be contemplative, distant, removed from the concerns which the objective world imposes upon us.

What is the “middle ground” – that proverbial height of mediocrity which all men and women pride themselves for:  the center between the two extremes, the “compromise” position that reflects rationality and reason, where vice is never to be completely refused and virtue too alien a concept such that we relegate it to angels, madmen and those who have lost their souls for a celibate fantasy of isolation.

Then, of course, human beings have the strange capacity to obsess over past wrongs committed – either by ourselves upon others, but more likely of those which have been perpetrated upon ourselves.  Hurts and wrongs penetrated leave room for vengeance and premeditation; we are admonished and given the tools to forgive, but harboring carefully concealed slights is a delicious means of fantasizing upon wreaking revenge upon those we secretly abhor.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, part of the key to writing an effective SF 3112A – Applicant’s Statement of Disability – is to refrain from engaging past wrongs obsessed over.

Yes, the Agency or the U.S. Postal Service has “done you wrong”; yes, they have gotten away with this, that and the other things; and, yes, in a perfect world, the individuals involved and the entity perpetrating the wrongs should pay a price and justice should prevail.  But the messiness reflected in the objective world reflects an imperfect human pathology, and trying to attain a Platonic Form of Justice otherwise nonexistent, will not help you “move on” with your own life.

Better to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application and move on so that you can focus upon your health and future, than to constantly become entrenched in past wrongs obsessed over; for, in the end, the smile of self-satisfaction should be when one’s OPM Disability Retirement application is approved, and you can wave goodbye to the messy cauldron of human detritus you are leaving behind.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Gov. Employment: Degree versus knowledge

Does a degree hold as much worth, if everyone possesses one?  Why are the economics of supply and demand not attached to degrees conferred by so-called institutions of “higher learning”?  Is the degree conferred of value because of the opportunities granted by the elevated status, or by the knowledge gained and imparted?  Or is the disjunctive bifurcation into universes of counterparts, between diploma represented as opposed to a jewelry box of wisdom, an offer of false alternatives, when some may indeed gain knowledge as well as certification in completion of courses advanced?

If everything is nothing, and nothing constitutes the combined aggregate of everything, can a distinction with a difference be proffered?  So, if everyone has gone to college, and the conferring of a degree is disseminated to all, has nothing been gained by the accessibility to everything?  It is, of course, best represented by Cordelia in Shakespeare’s Tragedy, King Lear, where he responds to the hesitant daughter, “Nothing will come of nothing”, and entreats her to further to expound by extravagant and flowery profusion of meaningless trope; or would it have been meaningless?

The silence which ensues between the cacophony of emotions in the short scene is painful and agonizing.  The old king whose feelings have been devastated; the insincere showering of expressed flattery by his other daughters; the pauses and elongated silences between entreaty and loss of words; for, it is ultimately that wide expanse and abyss between the words fabricated and the intent revealed, which formalizes the fate of a person’s soul and destined catastrophe.

It is the identical nature of a degree versus knowledge, and there are multiple parallels and counterparts of such contending artifices of conceptual constructs enamored; of silence versus quietude; of peace which merely poses as a veil for a ceasefire.  Knowledge is what is lacking in a society that promotes glitter, padded resume and degrees dispensed with abandon and devalued wisdom.

There are exceptions, however, and the pragmatic cynic will counter with:  Would you allow an individual without a medical degree to perform surgery upon a vital organ?  The answer, of course, is an unqualified “no”.  And that is why, in a Federal Disability Retirement application, the case-law conferred and rendered by Administrative Law Judges at the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board have consistently held that a treating doctor possesses the greater credibility in formulating an effective Federal Disability Retirement application in a Federal Disability Retirement case, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

For, like the issue surrounding the distinction between “degree” versus “knowledge”, the medical doctor who has never treated a particular patient, but who certifies that the Federal or Postal worker is unable to perform one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal employee’s positional duties, is likened to a person who wears the formalities of credentials, but lacks the individualized knowledge elevated to the heightened ascendency to wisdom, representing the doctor who has had multiple clinical encounters and can determine the capacity and capabilities of the Federal Disability Retirement applicant with confidence paralleling the man of knowledge who may lack a degree, but never fails to notice the pitfalls present on the pathway to an unlit gaze upon the heavenly stars of folly.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Reversal of Fortune

Life itself rarely reflects a steady, linear progression on a graph; the zig-zagging representing times of economic turmoil more accurately profiles a person’s span of existence.  Moreover, one’s career is not necessarily the essence or paradigm of a given life’s experience; there are multiple factors, including emotional, births and deaths, marriages and medical conditions.  How does one quantify an experience?

The methodology we seek is often purely in monetary parallelism:  if one receives pay raises and cash rewards, then one’s career is considered to be on an upward trajectory; if one gets a reduction in salary (with or without a concomitant demotion in position), then the loss of linear progression is deemed a failure of sorts.  But like marriages, and life itself, careers never merely reveal a positive path of progressive purity; ask Elizabeth Taylor, who skews every statistical analysis of marriages and divorces.  And then, of course, there is the interruptive influence of a medical condition.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, the daunting doldrums of a medical disability reveals many things not reflected on a graph of life:  the bother; the interruption of a career; the fear imposed; the dealings with coworkers; the reaction of the agency or Postal Service; the need for surgical and other procedures; a whole host of activities not previously contemplated.

For the Federal and Postal employee who finds that a medical condition begins to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, consideration then needs to be given for filing with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, or CSRS Offset, of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Yes, unfairness is a characteristic of life not reflected in the graph of microeconomics; yes, sometimes experience teaches us that the proverbial cards are stacked against us; and yes, reversals of fortune constitute a reality rarely taught in classroom social studies.  But as life’s experience is never accurately or fully represented by mere lines and numerical paradigms, so a biography of a historical figure can never be captured, as fortunes and reversals thereof can never embrace the complexity of human folly.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire