Postal and Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Preponderance of the Evidence

It is the legal standard by which civil (non-criminal) adjudications are based upon, and whether or not it can be rationally demarcated as against other standards – i.e., “Clear and convincing evidence” or “Proof beyond a reasonable doubt” is a question for legal theorists and the schools rendered under the general aegis of, “The Philosophy of Law” – is a valid question in and of itself.

For, we can dress prettily and puff up the definition of what it all means, and bifurcate and explain how the three standards are distinct and differentiated by the increasing severity of the criteria to be applied, but in the end, the juror who goes back into the room to consider the guilt or innocence, the fault or apportioned negligence, is entirely subjective.

For, is there a clear demarcation as to what “reasonable” is?  Can one delineate what is “clear” to one and “convincing” to another?  If a witness has perfect recall and a persuasive manner of telling a “story”, if one juror blurts out, “Oh, but his eye twitched and he was clearly lying through his teeth!” – what then?  And the concept that one side has a “preponderance of the evidence”, or to put it in different but equally confusing terms like “more likely than not” or “the greater weight of truth” – what do all of these analogies and metaphors mean, in the end?

Surely, there are the “easy” cases – an entire football stadium who saw a man shoot another, and the assailant who confesses to the murder; these, we can say are “beyond a reasonable doubt”, but even then, a single juror who has a beef against societal constrains can “nullify” a verdict by holding out.  So, what is the answer (or, for some who are still confused, “what is the question”)?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are entering the legal arena of preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the expectation, of course, is that the OPM Medical Retirement application will be approved at the first or second stages of the process – i.e., at the Initial Stage of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with OPM, or at the “Reconsideration Stage” of the process after an initial denial.

That being said, the Federal or Postal employee must – and should – consider the Third Stage of the Federal Disability Retirement process, which involves an Administrative Judge before the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.  That is when the legal standard of “Preponderance of the Evidence” will ultimately become relevant and operative, and where the evidence gathered and the amalgamation of arguments proffered becomes a basis for testing the validity of legal standards and the meaningful application of the law, evidence, and statutory interpretations.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement under FERS & CSRS: DDD

It is what Moynihan said so many years ago, of constantly reinterpreting normative constructs such that the subtle, insidious reduction of acceptance allows for normalization of that which was rejected and repugnant just a few years before, a generation ago, or never at all.  Or, it may refer to a medical condition of the spine – of the condition identified as “degenerative disc disease”; but in either case, the acronym used as a convenient route for linguistic economy has some similarities involved.

For, in both cases, DDD allows for the slow and steady deterioration of a process – the former, of a cultural rot and standards once ensconced firmly in the very fabric of society; the latter, of a slow process of debilitating “eating away” that reveals a condition progressive over time, decaying by crumbling of bone, cartilage and repetitive overuse traversing time’s despondency due to labor’s unnatural pose.  Or, one can just make it up and ascribe it to a tripartite conceptual compound; for instance, “dual deficit denominations” or “dark, dim and dumb”, or other such consternations of linguistic accolades.

In any event, it is the original of the two that seems to share a common ground of meaning; for, in both, it is the essence of a slow process of change; one, cultural in nature, of an acceptance of lesser standards whether by willful determination or accidental submission; the other, the debilitating disease that – over time and resulting from old age – progressively worsens.  One could simplify the concepts by dismissing the first as “cognitive” and the other as “physical”.

In either case, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical conditions, such that the medical condition impacts the Federal or Postal worker’s ability and capacity to continue in the same position and compels one to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement, both concepts can apply.

For, an expansive and liberal interpretation of Moynihan’s argument is similar to the Federal or Postal employee’s acceptance of the lower standard both in terms of his or her quality of life, as well as in seeing the adversarial nature of the Federal agency or the Postal facility as “normal” in the treatment of its employees.  And, as to the “other” definition of DDD – of the chronic neck or back pain – whether in a sedentary job or a very physical one, the high distractibility of pain that impacts upon one’s capacity and ability to safely focus, concentrate and attend to the job itself is often a qualification for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Thus, the acronym itself – whether for “defining deviancy down” or as “degenerative disc disease” – can fit the proverbial bill in considering the option of Federal Disability Retirement benefits, submitted through another acronym of sorts – OPM – otherwise known as the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The dead, the dying and youth

Have you ever seen a flower arrangement that weaves together deadwood with bright and colorful summer explosions?  They tell us of that which reflects modernity:  The dead are forgotten in the background; the sick and dying are mere echoes fading quickly into a distant past; and it is only the vigorous who dominate and forcefully remain in the forefront.

How a society coordinates the interaction between the triad of life’s complex ingredients reveals the extent of its inner soul and character.  For, how many of us truly want to live in a pure State of Nature, where only the brute strength of predatory behavior would rule?  How many of us would survive in such a dystopian world, and for how long?

How we treat the remains, vestiges and memories of those gone; what we do with the ones still alive but deteriorating, suffering and lonely in their abandoned abodes; and whatever is left for the youth, what value of transference is imparted from the traditions longstanding, the obligations imparted, and the core values embraced – these determine the viability of a society in turmoil.

For, the dead reveal in constancy as to who we are by giving us a past; the dying, what we are made of by the example of how we treat the least of our community; and the value of youth is inherent in the lineage existent for the future continuation of a viable and vibrant tradition; and it is always the interrelationships between the tripartite worlds that determine whether and how.

We tend to want to compartmentalize, then to isolate each into their individual components such that one never interrelates with another.  But reality often will force a society to reflect upon such an artificial manner of conceptual isolationism, and sometimes it is by mere change of perspective that can lead to a paradigm shift of sorts.

Thus does this happen when we see a flower arrangement that artfully weaves the deadwood of winter with the vibrant colors of spring, and allow for even the panorama of fall leaves to still reveal beauty and breathtaking insights, and allow for the youth of summer blossoms to radiate, while at the same time giving deference to the others in the haiku of life.  It is often through a metaphor like this on a macro-scale that we can then glean a reflective outlook upon the microcosm of our own lives.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who sees him or herself as “less than worthy” – somewhat like the dying twigs in a flower arrangement otherwise filled with vibrancy and youth – all because a medical condition is becoming chronic and debilitating, one needs only look upon a flower arrangement that encompasses the triad of life’s natural flow.

Perhaps the agency is like those exploding blossoms of summer; and, more likely, the Federal Agency and the Postal Service will relegate the deadwood into the trash heap of corner offices and ignore those who are less productive.  But that is not a reflection upon the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition and can no longer perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position; rather, that is an indictment upon the Federal Agency and the Postal Service itself.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is merely another way to maintain the constancy of society’s unstated promise – much like the flower arrangement that intersperses the dead, the dying and youth – by asserting that legal rights still matter, and a medical condition does not necessarily mean that one’s career is just more deadwood at the back of the arrangement, but can still reveal a promising future for greater productivity in the private sector of life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The hospital bed

It is a lonely and demoralizing state of affairs; they poke, prod and insist upon ruling out every sector of one’s body as the culprit of diagnosed maladies.  The hospital bed is a barbaric contraption next to a mediaeval torture chamber, and one can only imagine what such inventions were like in those olden days, when antiseptic means meant the possibility of washing one’s hands every now and again, and where pain and death were part of everyday living.

It reminds us, above all, of our own vulnerability and mortality; and what a blessing health and life are.

Oh, it is true – we take such issues for granted, and barely get beyond the tripe and inane statements like, “Oh, health is such a blessing,” or, “We are so thankful for our health.”  It is when one is in the hospital, alone in a bed, in the darkness of those twilight hours, that the reality of one’s own Being is revealed:  the projects we cling to; the significance we place upon the work we perform; and the extra credit we think we deserve when we work late into the wee hours.

We have heard all of those wise remarks, either in novels, essays or even movies:  On your epitaph, you do not get a special mention for ignoring your health.  Work is great, but that needs to be placed in its proper perspective.  The projects we engage and embrace – is it, as Heidegger reminds us, merely a means to avoid the inevitable outcome of our fate?  Do the gods laugh from above, pointing to our mortality and the fruitless attempts we cling to in order to avoid facing our future?

It is, in the end, the hospital bed that reminds us starkly of who we are, where we are heading, and what this all will mean.

Retirement is not meant to be a time to spend in a hospital bed; Disability Retirement is not meant to be filed at a point when a Federal or Postal employee is so debilitated that once it is approved by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, that one merely “retires” to a hospital bed.  It is, instead, a system whereby a person is recognized to no longer be able to perform some of the essential elements of one’s job, but that there is an implicit understanding that there can be a time in the future where productivity can be applied to a different vocation or another career.

Yes, there are jokes that abound – of Federal Disability Retirement annuitants being Walmart Greeters or engaged in other similarly menial and lesser jobs, but those are not the only stories to tell.  There are many Federal annuitants who have found private sector jobs where the pay scale comes perilously close to the 80% limit – and, while that can be a problem, isn’t that a “good” problem to have?

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits does not require the “higher” standard of being debilitated or “totally disabled”; rather, it is a standard which recognizes that there is an inconsistency between the position one occupies, and the medical conditions from which one suffers.  If consideration in filing is arrived at in a hospital bed, it is still not too late; but a reminder it is, and the next steps are to begin the long and complicated process of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The intransigent excuse

Much of life is spent in retrospectively justifying actions; the remainder of the time, of making excuses where we can, and when we need to (which is often).  The great thing about excuses is that the reserve of them can never be depleted; like the never-exhaustive stars in the universe, we can always discover, make up, or otherwise concoct another.  Thus, to counter that a person has “run out of excuses” is to defy reality; we can always, if the need requires, go back to one that we long ago abandoned, and stick to it.

It is that intransigent excuse that tends to defy – the one that, though unreasonable by most accounts, nevertheless provides a shield of protection for the one who clings to it.  For, the one who tightly embraces an intransigent excuse never, of course, considers it as such; it is, instead, the fault that rests upon the rest of the world in a conspiracy of illogical motives that attempts to change course and offer alternatives as to facts, opinions or best avenues for future courses of action.

As to the one clinging to such excuses, it is never characterized as such.  No, instead it is an explanation in light of reasonable circumstances; a logical conclusion based upon facts as interpreted; and, even if the rest of the universe fails to comprehend the logic of the stated foundation, the intransigent excuse is the last bastion of the proverbial wall that may force us to do, acknowledge and admit to that which we vehemently resist.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are in need of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the primary concern is to get beyond an intransigent excuse.  While there are very few circumstances in which filing for Federal Disability Retirement is “too late” (other than the obvious one, of course, of complying with the Statue of Limitations of filing within 1 year of being separated from Federal Service), the key is to file before it becomes an emergency.

As OPM has a large backlog of cases and they are taking longer and longer to review, evaluate and make decisions on a case – leaving aside the problem of even first having them to assign a case to a reviewer/ administrative specialist – there must needs be some forward planning and foresight of future-oriented perspectives, and it is often the intransigent excuse which defies, builds a wall against, and creates seemingly insurmountable obstacles in moving forward.

Life is full of obstacles, and the ones we build ourselves are often the most difficult to overcome.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a big decision to make; thought, preparation and formulation of a plan is often necessary.  Just do not allow for the intransigent excuse to be the wall that prevents the reasonable approach to prevail.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The sweater draped over a chair

You look in the room and see the sweater draped over a chair.  You turn your gaze elsewhere, engage the ongoing conversations and the din of others distracted.  Later, you turn back your gaze again, and the sweater is gone.  You look about to try and see whether someone picked it back up, is wearing it, or perhaps put it somewhere else.

You imply and infer – yes, one must follow the general grammatical rule that the speaker implies while the listener infers; but you are both the speaker and the listener, the one who observes and the same one who steps outside of the conscious universe to observe the observed.  You imply that someone put the sweater over the chair, and that same person (or someone else) took it at a later time – all during a period when your eyes were diverted elsewhere.

You assume that the world continues to operate even outside of the purview of your deliberate and conscious observation, as we all do.  You infer the same; of a world otherwise not within the limited perspective of observation, either by visual or audio awareness.  Yet, where is the evidence of such inference or implication; and that is, of course, what Bishop Berkeley’s restrictive definition of “existence” and Being was meant to encapsulate in perfect form:  Not that there are no mountains on the far side of the moon when we cannot observe them, but that we limit the definition of Being such that peripheral philosophical conundrums created by language’s difficulty with implied Being and inferred Existence can be avoided.

Perhaps we dreamt the draping of the sweater over the chair, or had a fit of phantasm and imaginative discourse that went astray.  In any event, you never saw the person either drape the sweater over the chair, nor dispossess the chair of its warmth and concealment.  Instead, you infer and imply – ignoring the grammatical rules previously mentioned.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are attempting to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the relevance here concerns writing up an effective narrative of one’s medical condition, its impact upon one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s position, and the legal argumentation to make in order to persuade OPM:  to what extent should facts and other statements be directly delineated, as opposed to leaving certain matters presumed or otherwise to be inferred or implied?

OPM is a bureaucracy, and with all such administrative entities, is made up of varying levels of competence and acuity of observation.  For the most part, in writing up the narrative on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, the general rule should be to make that which is implicit, as explicit as possible, and never to leave the room where a sweater is draped such that disappearance of the garment may leave a mystery otherwise unable to be solved except by implication and inference.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire