FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Making the Legal Argument

Legal arguments are merely a subset of ordinary ones; as variations of the facetious quip goes, if the facts are not on the lawyer’s side, then he will argue the law; if the law is not, he will argue the facts; if neither, then he will attempt to confound and obfuscate both.

By sequence of logical argumentation, it is self-evident that “facts” must be the first order of presentation; then, persuasive discussions concerning those facts, forming and molding a given perspective (for there is surely a distinction to be made between that which “is” and that which “is seen” by a particular individual, bringing in the subjective component of interpretation and conveyance of information); and only after the facts have bespoken should persuasive efforts follow; and then, the legal argument to be made.

Thereafter, the question of how aggressive a legal argument; of pounding like a hammer, or the subtle tap of the constant but insistent drumbeat, guiding the listener with a roadmap as to why a decision should be made pursuant to persuasive force, or threats of further legal action.

For the Federal and Postal worker who is trying to have a Federal Disability Retirement application approved, the art of persuasion, the effective use of legal argumentation, and the delineation of factual roadmaps must be coordinated with the utmost of care.  Administrative processes are often replete with frustrating procedures to follow, and it is a dangerous endeavor to allow for one’s frustration to erupt when dealing with a bureaucracy which is rarely responsive, and normally unaffected by the most dire of circumstances.

Thus, in sequence of logical argumentation: The facts as portrayed in as objective a manner as possible; the interpretation of the facts, such that the subjective perspective is insightfully applied, but without the overuse of the “I’ or “me”; argumentation; then, and only then, the applicability of the law.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit offered to all Federal and Postal employees who meet the minimum eligibility requirements of time in Federal Service, age and a level of medical evidence which must be carefully and thoughtfully presented.

As such, for the Federal or Postal worker who intends on filing for the benefit of OPM Disability Retirement, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS-Offset, the art of factual and legal argumentation must be presented with persuasive force, often like the slow dripping of an unconstrained faucet, as opposed to the break of a dam.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: The Dependence of Meaning

Wittgenstein believe that it was not possible to have a private language held by an individual alone; for, as language by definition is a means to communicate, any language which is kept in private from everyone else would be a meaningless tool.

Private, insular worlds are dependent upon their functioning upon the receipt by third parties to impart meaning and interaction; otherwise, left within the void and chasm of pure privacy, they remain nothing more than the slow drip of a distant echo of spring water deep within the hollows of an undiscovered cave.  For those of the rest of us who live and interact within a world of words, writings, and regulatory compendium of laws and statutes, the ability to convey meaning in a meaningful way is paramount for the successful progression of our every day lives.

For the Civilian Federal or Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of his or her Federal or Postal duties, conveying what one means becomes a critical exercise:  putting together an effective Federal Disability Retirement application to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, in a manner which persuades and entitles, is the penultimate goal which must be accomplished.

How one gets from point A to point B; what material and evidence to compile and include; what legal arguments to bring up and point out; these are all elements which must be considered. Concurrently, the privacy of one’s medical conditions must be protected to the fullest; but that is where the compromise must be attained, between the private and insular world of necessity, and the public world of reality which must be encountered and engaged.

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 for Federal Workers: Persuasion and Diatribes

Methods of argumentation require one to embrace a tripartite approach:  Regard for who the audience is; consideration of what the intended goal is; selection of the effective methodology of presentation.

Diatribes will often consider the first two points, while disregarding the third — for, the intended audience is the targeted person or group who must bear the vitriolic attack; the goal is to let loose a torrent of one’s beliefs and (in all likelihood) upset the recipient; but it is rarely an effective approach for any intended purpose other than to gratify one’s emotional turmoils.

Persuasion, on the other hand, must by necessity include the third element — for the very sign of success not only regards the intended audience and considers the goal of changing another’s mind; most importantly, it must do so in a subtle, quiet sort of way — by allowing for the recipient of the presentation to think that he or she is changing a perspective based upon one’s own volition, when in fact the presentation itself is the vehicle of the alteration.

It is this distinction between a diatribe and persuasion which one must keep in mind when preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS. The bull-in-a-china-shop approach in presenting one’s Federal Disability Retirement application before the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will rarely win them over; on the other hand, a carefully-crafted presentation based upon a streamlined narrative; upon medical evidence which is concise; and with legal arguments which are precise — leads to a methodology of persuasive impact.

Diatribes serve their self-centered purposes; persuasive argumentation allows for the unseen thread to pull the levers of effective results.  In the end, the short-term gratification of a diatribe will leave one hungry and dissatisfied, whereas the fruits of persuasion will always fulfill the needs of the audience, and the desire of the presenter.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Legal Arguments

Legal arguments represent a peculiar form of persuasive argumentation; by appealing to statutory authority, precedents as set by prior court cases and administrative legal opinions, as well as decisions rendered in previous decisions — the foundation of a legal argument rests upon the validity of that which occurred prior to one’s own case.

That is why, in making a legal argument, lawyers argue “by analogy” — via similarity of factual context, as a logical proposition:  X resulted in Y; the factual circumstances in A are similar to X; therefore, A should similarly result in Y.  It is not, in terms of pure syllogistic logic, a valid one to make; for the dissimilarities between A and X may well determine the outcome as to Y.

Further, familiarity with the underlying reasoning of a legal opinion is essential to making a valid legal argument.  That is why non-lawyers who attempt to cite case-law and legal authorities as a basis for their Federal Disability Retirement often fail, and fail miserably:  while it may be the right case-law to cite, the analogy may not fit the context.  In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is not only important to create the nexus between one’s medical condition and the positional duties of the Federal or Postal job; moreover, it is essential to make the logical and legal argument in a persuasive, effective manner.

According to an Aristotelian approach, man is indeed a rational animal, and rationality is effectively pursued through a logical methodology; but what is not stated in such an approach, is that rationality and logic do not constitute the entirety of the universe of human persuasion; legal argumentation is merely one facet of the society within which we must live; in the context of a Federal Disability Retirement application, it may play a major part; and that is why citing the right case, making the proper analogy, and creating the logical nexus between facts and “the law”, is essential to a successful outcome in a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Persuading with Persuasive Arguments

The question is often asked concerning whether or not and to what extent other collateral agency decisions can impact a Federal Disability Retirement application filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), whether under FERS or CSRS.

The only answer which can be provided is the standard, “It depends…”  The reason why “it depends” is precisely because utilization of any persuasive information or evidence is primarily dependent upon the persuasive efficacy of the evidence itself.

There is certainly legal case-law support for collateral evidentiary submissions, including SSDI, Department of Veterans Affairs ratings, Military Board findings, and DOL/OWCP second opinion and “referee” findings, etc.  Thus, the issue is not whether or not there is a basis for using such third-hand sources to support the primary evidentiary foundation of a Federal Disability Retirement application; rather, the issue becomes one of how effectively should one use such evidence.  Such a question, of course, can only depend upon the particular and unique circumstances of each case, by analyzing and reviewing the strength, applicability, and relevance of the documented information.

Sometimes, use of such collateral evidence can somewhat backfire, in that OPM will actually point to such evidence and discuss it in a way which supports a denial.  Care and discretion must always be taken in using collateral information; it is always the primacy of the primary information which must be used, and used effectively.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Being Persuasive

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS from the Office of Personnel Management, there are certain “advantages” which a Federal or Postal employee/applicant may already possess from the outset, without having filed a single piece of paper with the Office of Personnel Management.  

These advantages may include:  an agency action removing the Federal or Postal employee from Federal Service based upon one’s medical inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job; an Air Traffic Controller receiving a disqualification by the Flight Surgeon; an OWCP-accepted claim where a Second Opinion doctor writes a comprehensive report and answers definitively that the Federal or Postal employee has a permanent medical condition which will prevent him or her from ever returning to his or her former job; a Supervisor’s Statement which clearly delineates and describes the extent of the Federal or Postal employee’s medical condition based upon observation and agency-impact; and multiple other “advantages”.  However, an advantage fails to become so, and remains only in a state of potentiality, unless it is actualized by being utilized effectively.  By “effective utilization” is meant that, just as one can be persuasive only by persuading, so one can effectively utilize an inherent advantage in a Federal Disability Retirement application only by persuasively arguing that the particular agency action has a legal basis in which the action itself is legally persuasive.  

In other words, the proper legal citations which have been mandated previously by a Judge in another case, must be cited and referred to, in order to use it as an argumentation basis to the Office of Personnel Management.  One cannot persuade unless one engages in persuasive conduct — and that means that one must not go out blindly into the field and use a scythe as a hammer, but be able to recognize the tool for what it is, then to use it accordingly.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire