Federal Employee’s Medical Retirement: A Perspective on Truth

The traditional philosophical arguments surrounding the nature of Truth, the “battle” between “Absolute Truth” and “Pure Relativism”, etc., are too often simplified and reduced to sloganeering and shouting matches which end up being nothing more than accusations as to whether one believes in a Higher Order of Being — or not.  Yet, it is often a perspective upon appearances which determines the “truth” of a statement.

Plato pointed this out in reference to the three towers in the distance; if seen from one direction, they appear to be only one; if seen from another, they constitute 3 distinct objects.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in denying a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS, takes a similar perspective on truth.  They will take each medical condition cited, isolate each and minimize the impact of the separated medical conditions upon one’s ability or inability to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, and by approaching the “truth” this way, can purport to make your case appear “as if” you never had any case at all.

Now, some might critically argue that such an approach is “disingenuous” (i.e., somewhat akin to the “absolutist” argument), while others merely view this as “clever” (i.e., akin to the “relativists”).  The point of OPM’s approach is to make you believe that you never had a chance to begin with, and to have you go away without filing for Reconsideration, thus reducing their caseload by a numerical insignificance until multiplied by an exponential factor of greater percentages.

The way to counter OPM’s argument?  To identify their approach and counter it with a different, more powerful perspective on truth — by further medical documentation and more powerful legal argumentation which makes OPM’s argument impotent and irrelevant.

For, in the end, a perspective on truth must be countered by proposing an alternative perspective on truth — of showing that the three-towers-in-one is a mere illusion and a trick of the eye.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal & Postal Disability Retirement from OPM: Feelings

There are appropriate contexts within which to consider them, as well as places, insertions, events and conversational modalities where it is partly or entirely irrelevant; but as with most things in life, the boundaries that bifurcate are not always clear and distinct.  When one is considering purely subjective circumstances, it is clearly the “appropriate” moment — of personal relationships; of a vacation to be taken; of emotions being considered.

In a court of law, it is probably not the best approach to take with a judge; although, in the sentencing phase or the “damages” argument to be made to a jury, it may be the singular force of persuasive impact that makes not only the distinction unclear, but the decision quite the decisive edge.

“Feelings” are to be reserved for puppies, late nights in bed with a fever, and how the toes tickle when lying on a grassy knoll in the middle of summer when the lone ant walks along the pathway of your bare skin.

Do we dare admit to them?  When you are in a heated argument, is it not an oxymoron to shout, “Feelings don’t have anything to do with it!”  For, what is the criteria to be applied when making a decision based upon them?  Does the spectrum of emotions never cloud one’s judgment?  Or can we, as we often claim, set them aside so easily, like so many automatons in those doomsday movies that have become popularized, where androids and mechanized juggernauts that have taken over the earth and tried to suppress humanity are now the very beings whom we always wanted to emulate?

And what of the French Existentialists and the horror of reaction to that old favorite, “Invasion of the body snatchers” — what was it that made it so fascinating, where beings were stripped of their souls and emotions were all of a sudden undone, extinguished and no longer relevant, where bodies devoid of feelings walked about the earth like so many empty tombs?

Feelings are funny animals; they make up so much of who we are, and yet we spend a lifetime trying to avoid the very essence of that which makes up who we are.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal Worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, the anomaly concerning “feelings” becomes quickly apparent: for, confronted with having to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application before an administrative body — the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — you are asked to remain “clinical” and antiseptic in the face of “proving” the medical evidence by the cold calculus of “the law”, and yet at the same time you are trying to convey your “feelings” with respect to the impact of the pain, the anguish of anxiety or the daily levels of profound fatigue felt.

It is a tightrope, balancing act that must be done with expertise, subtle techniques and an interspersing of line-crossing deftly engaged. Completing the SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, is the single most important form in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, aside from gathering the proper medical documentation and making the persuasive legal argumentation.

For, in the end, that lifetime of trying to suppress those “feelings” must be utilized carefully, yet at the same time you have to be persuasive enough to touch upon the emotional makeup of a fellow human being who, also, likely has had to suppress those same feelings in order to apply “the law”.  Go figure.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Disability Retirement: Identifying the time for change

At what point does a person finally realize that it is time for a change?  That things cannot go on “as is” much longer, and certain modifications, “accommodations” (there’s that fearful word, again) and alterations must occur, or else you feel that your head will explode or something dire will suddenly befall.  Inside, daily, your thoughts turn to the knowledge that “this cannot go on forever”, and that something must occur.  But what?

Then, the voice of hope keeps whispering that, well, perhaps circumstances will change, alterations to the objective universe may come about in the morning thereafter, and the world will somehow shift and things will get better.

We have been fed upon from infancy until the cold winds of adulthood that folklore and fairytales occur, but the reality is that unless we initiate the pathways of change, they rarely occur except in fables of miracles and mythologies told in dusty old books.

First, it should be clear that the need for change has already been identified when one recognizes that it is time for change.  That identification, however, is often not enough.  For, it is the further sub-identification in recognizing what it is that needs change, and more importantly, why?

If the reasons underlying the need are within the purview of one’s control and destiny of choices being made, then the second step in the process can be initiated by the need identified.  That is the critical juncture in the decision-making process: Of identification, the reason, the underlying need, and then the steps taken to initiate the change in order to satisfy the need identified.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the need for change often comes about incrementally, insidiously and without great fanfare.

The “need for change” can often come at a critical juncture where frustration of a sense of impending doom collide, and necessity arises because no other alternative pathways appear to exist.  Moreover, it is the identification of the time for change that is often overlooked — that point in life where one is scrambling about desperately not quite knowing the “why” of the need, but only that it must come about.

Speaking to an experienced attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement law may be the first step in sorting it all out.  For the Federal or Postal employee who must by necessity consider filing a Federal Disability Retirement application , the need for change is likely now; identifying the time for change may only require the time it takes to have an initial consultation with a lawyer who has guided many Federal and Postal employees through this process before.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Early Medical Retirement from Federal Government: Berkeley’s House

He was an Irishman, and if one were to “rank” philosophers, he would likely be considered a “second tier” thinker — not quite at the level of Plato, Aristotle, Descartes or Heidegger — but certainly contributed to the Western Philosophical tradition of engendering even greater questions than solving any problems or settling any queries.

A little tidbit which is not commonly known: Bishop Berkeley came to the United States and purchased a plantation at Middletown, intending upon living there, until his expectation of funding failed to be forthcoming.  That is probably what he is least known for; the Latin phrase for which he gains the greatest notoriety, is esse est percipi — to be, is to be perceived.

An absurd and uncharitable interpretation of this foundational phrase, would be to attribute to Berkeley the idea that things in the objective world exist only to the extent that we perceive them; the moment such perceptual pervasiveness disappears, then, existence becomes extinguished.

A more rational view of his postulate, however, is to attribute Berkeley to the tradition of British linguistic philosophers, and to consider the following “implied” but silent intentions:  “The definition of what it means to exist, can only have meaning if, and only if, there is a perceiver for which the object is there to be perceived, and as such, existence as a concept of any meaningful import must by necessity have a perceiver”.

Without this kinder, gentler version of interpretive connotations, all manner of ridicule and scoffing have been thrown at the good Bishop — in the form of:  “So, when I leave a room, does it vanish?  And when I return, does it suddenly reappear?”  And in the days of Star Trek:  “Beam me up, Scottie, or in philosophical circles, Bishop Berkeley”.

It is, in the end, the absurdity of linguistic interpretation which ultimately relegated Berkeley to the “second tier” of philosophical thought; and from that unintended consequences resulting from an attempt to resolve a complex issue of metaphysical discourse, we can learn and discern much:  complexity sometimes cannot be circumvented with simplicity of declarative assertion; often, there is a reason why such a conundrum of linguistic inelasticity exists.

Thus, for the Federal employee or U.S. Postal Service worker who is intending upon preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the key point here is that, yes, your case may be quite complex, but the route to making it comprehensible to the administrative specialist at OPM, is not to try and simplify the core essence of the case, but to state the complex in simple language.

That is often the greatest difficulty with a Federal or Postal applicant in preparing one’s Statement of Disability on Standard Form 3112A — the narrative in response to the various questions will often meander and fail to achieve a coherency because everything from Dickens’ childhood details (which, as you may recall, Salinger scoffed at in his famous work, The Catcher in the Rye) to peripheral issues involved EEO complaints and workplace harassment concerns are thrown in for good or seemingly better measure, when in fact a simplified version based upon good habits of editing would produce a more effective statement of compelling narration.

For, in the end, postulating a Federal Disability Retirement application is not a matter of compiling a voluminous or complex treatise for persuasive discourse; it is to tell a coherent story of one’s inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties with the Federal job or Postal position, and we need not defer to Berkeley’s House — whether as a historical tidbit or as the confounded thought processes extracted from his complex works — in order to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal OPM Disability Retirement application.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal & Postal Medical Retirement: The language of law

Wittgenstein recognized that there exists various forms of languages within a community of a shared language — with words everyone understood, sentences all were familiar with, but the usage and meaning of which were unique to a particular group or set of individuals.  Such comity of meanings and esoteric application of language were designated as “language games”.  Information Technology groups have their own set of insulated meanings; advertising agents, insurance companies, and children who form an exclusive club may formulate within-community code words exclusive to the group alone, and alien to all around.

What, then, is the language of law?  Certainly, analogy and hypothetical models of similar situations and transactions are a part of it; and the methodology of argumentation is to show the familiarity of classes of subject-matter issues and identical-sounding situations which penetrate the judge’s capacity to accept and anticipate precedent-setting citations of prior acts.  Why the language game of the legal arena accepts as a primary basis of interaction similar-sounding prior fact-scenarios is often a mystery to “outsiders” (i.e., non-lawyers), and confounds with frustration the enormous expenditure of time and money in engaging such circuitous narratives of persuasive argumentation.

What about my case?  What difference does it make whether or not a decades-old case applies in an analogical manner to the facts at hand?  But that is precisely the point of the language of law; for, it is consistency of application and perpetuation of stability which makes for reverence for “the law”.  Arbitrariness and malleability creates suspicion of motives, and justice requires the fair constancy of applying “the law”.

This is important to understand in all arenas of the “language game of law”, and for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who may need to entertain the potentiality for filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal Worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the entrance into “Administrative Law” (which is what filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM falls under) is no different.

Precedent-setting cases develop over decades and epochs of lifetimes; and whether the OPM Disability Retirement applicant is aware of it or not, the compendium of rules, regulations and decision-setting conclusions are all guided by, constricted within, and influenced throughout, by prior cases handed down by judicial opinions rendered “on high” by administrative law judges and Federal Court of Appeals mandates.

Should case laws be cited in the submission of a Federal or Postal Disability Retirement application?  As the law is the hinge upon which society survives, so the question of persuasive argumentation may live or die based upon the vocalization of precedents.  But always remember that the language of law is a specific type of language game, and the exclusive club of legalese requires some training of usage, where applicability may sound like gobbledygook unless formulated with an ear towards coherence within the insular language game of law.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire