Lawyer for Federal Disability Retirement claims: Fact and opinion

These days, the distinction between the two has been almost completely lost.  One must qualify such a statement with “almost”, only because there may still be minority bastions and pockets of hope still holding out that the madness prevailing will someday be overcome.

Somehow, the lines bifurcating the distinction that once were so obvious became obscured, until suddenly it was no longer a matter of just blurry lines, but the lines themselves had disappeared, and no one spoke as if there was a difference to be had.  Facts were confirmed and established “somethings” in either the objective world or of tradition-laden statements that we could all agree upon; opinions were various interpretations of those commonly-accepted facts, interspersed with the subjective content that often prefaced with, “It is my opinion that…”.

We have now discarded even the prefatory admonition, now, because it has become an unnecessary addendum; since there are no longer any facts, and everyone is privileged to hold an opinion, we go ahead and speak not facts because our opinion holds out just as well, thank you very much.

Where did it all begin?  Was it because Plato made too much about the difference between reality and appearance — so much so that he was forced to manufacture his conceptual fiction of ethereal “Forms” that itself became so problematic?  Or was it with Descartes, where certainty of one’s own existence became relegated to the subjective “I”, and so it was bound to become a muddle as more and more philosophers came to realize that, like Russell’s muse about language and the destruction of the traditional correspondence theory of truth, statements made could not so easily be identified as either fact or opinion.

It becomes much more problematic when statutory, reputation, education and logical methodology are altogether discarded and made irrelevant, and so we come back full circle in questioning ourselves, the categorizations we have imposed, and how to get beyond the conundrum of modernity’s own making.

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 job or Postal position, the question concerning “fact or opinion” is an important one, because the weaving of one into the other is queried in Standard Form 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

How one’s answers are formulated and presented; whether they can be verified, established, “backed up with facts” as opposed to being left as mere subjective opinions — are all bundled up and contained within the questions asked, and how you will be answering them.

Fortunately, there is still remaining an approach and methodology of presenting facts as facts, and setting aside opinions and interpretations of the facts, and in 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, it is important to recognize the difference still, and be cautious in completing SF 3112A in light of modernity’s obsessional disorientation on the difference between fact and opinion.

Just the facts, as stated by my opinion.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Disability Retirement Representation: Conversations

What is a conversation?  Or, is it an empirical phenomenon that — only when we are in the middle of it — we know as we experience it, but otherwise is undefinable?  If there are 5 people in a room but only 1 is doing the talking, is a conversation ongoing?  Must there be a “back and forth” give and take, or must something more be involved?  If the same 5 people are in the same room, and all of them are talking all at once, does that rise to the level of a conversation?  Does interruption and talking over one another undermine the definition?

What if there is extraordinary politeness — of each waiting his and her turn — and where no one interrupts, there is a pause between each discourse and a civility beyond mere lack of rudeness, but upon listening, one realizes that each one of the individuals is speaking about a completely different topic, and there is no interaction or even acknowledgment that anyone is listening to anyone else — does this all of a sudden undermine the concept of what is occurring?

This is an Age of Discord — of intractable positions taken, where the foundations that once formed the Age of Reason have been decimated and we are left with empty voices of loud vehemence, hollow in content but roaring in volume.  Truth, objectivity, logic and rational methodology — the very essence of discourse and conversation — have been hollowed out and cast aside.

It is now in camps of “us” against “them”, but the singular missing component that has devastated the capacity to have a conversation is the one that no one ever talks about: The ability to recognize and admit that someone else’s argument is superior to one’s own.

When was the last time you heard someone say: “Hey, that argument is quite good and persuasive.  I think you are right.”?  Instead, it is the familiar refrain: “That’s just your opinion.”  And as the volume of decibels increases, the content of substance proportionately and precipitously falls.

There are, of course, various levels of conversations, but one level is clear: Listen to the other side.  This also includes reading, recognizing and understanding the applicable statutes in an administrative process in order to meet all of the elements of the burden of proof.  Being intransigent and stubborn are qualities that makes one feel empowered, but concurrently, are often self-defeating.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal and Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it all begins with knowledge — of the statutes, the case-law and the precedents that apply.

We may all have to concede that the Age of Conversations is over; what we may be left with is a process where, at the very least, one must listen and try to learn.

Federal Disability Retirement is an administrative process which is never simple, and must be approached with knowledge, tenacity and an ear to listening to what is needed in order to meet the eligibility requirements.  Having a medical condition is a start, but it is not enough.  And like conversations that may have started but puttered out without fanfare, preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application will take more than talking about how we “feel”.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The rate of return

At what point does the rate of return diminish to the extent that it is “no longer worth it.”?  And, what is the “it” referring to?  Is it the effort expended in contrast to the compensation received?  Is it the dividends paid upon an investment ignored?

Often, in all of the contexts just described, the focus is upon the wrong point; it is not the “end product” or the final sum that should determine the worthwhile aspect of the “rate of return”, but rather, the key term overlooked — not the “return”, but the “rate”.  One might argue that the two essentially are the same, inasmuch as the “return” (the sum received) is determined by the “rate” (the calculus that determines).  But are they?  Doesn’t it depend upon what context it is being applied to?

Certainly, when conceived of in a traditional investment category, the final sum received can be backtracked to the rate that has been applied; but what about other, more non-traditional contexts, such as friendships, work — even marriage?  Or does one never apply such cold-hearted calculations when discoursing upon the arena of human relationships?  Can we so easily drop friendships and end marriages based upon the same criteria applied in changing investment firms?

Come to think of it, our own lack of active interest is probably the single biggest reason that marriages and friendships last — because, like those investments that we allow to remain because we are too lazy to take an active interest in, many remain in marriages and friendships well beyond the love that has been lost long ago, or the affection that has waned all too subtly; for, in the end, it is our own laziness and lack of motivation that allows the fallowed pastures to let life slowly die in the uncaring tenements of thoughtless stupor.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers that suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent the full performance of one’s positional duties and the essential elements of the job, the conceptual paradigm of the “rate of return” should be applied in contemplating whether or not to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Surely, the Federal Agency or the Postmaster is thinking along the same lines — is he/she getting the job done?  Can I get more out of someone else?

That is the Agency’s perspective; but what about yours?  Such questions as: Is my health going to improve by remaining?  What will the future options be: remain, resign or file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits?

If the first and second choices are no longer real options, then the third one is a necessity, as it becomes clear that the rate of return is no longer a worthwhile investment to remain in a job that clearly is destroying any semblance of one’s quality of life — and that, in the end, is what the purpose of the investment was all about to begin with.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Disability Retirement: The vacation that wasn’t

When is a vacation no longer one?  Is it when we take work with us, sit upon the sands of timeless recreation — but with a laptop or a pile of papers that are kept weighted down by a crumpled towel and children asking or demanding for immediacy of attention becoming distant noises of irritation and not the gaiety of sharing?

Or, is the intrusion upon our insular universe — you know, the mind’s eye behind the blank stare; the constant rumination of what we expect and anticipate upon our return; the angst over the backup of emails that will await us upon our return; the fear and knowledge that some devious action has been planned for by our boss or coworkers, or perhaps both in conjunction within a conspiratorial scheme no longer veiled with declared foreknowledge and barely hidden beneath the seething tides of backstabbing dominions?

Even that 3-day weekend, or the weekly routine of the 2-day weekend; they are no longer refreshments from the toil and rumination of worry and anxiety, panic-stricken with sleepless nights and dreams that once gave a fading smile but now urging you to wake up in the middle of the night drenched in pools of sweat for nightmares that won’t leave you alone.

The vacation that wasn’t — isn’t — is the one that no longer refreshes and cannot be looked forward to because the anticipation of what will be left behind becomes too overwhelming to bear.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition has begun to prevent the performance of one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, when the vacation that cannot be taken is the one that cannot be enjoyed becomes a constancy of regressive acts of futility, then it is time to consider 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.

Where weekends merely become a refuge to recuperate for the following Monday, but where such rest and attempted refreshment is merely likened to the proverbial struggle of rearranging the chairs upon a sinking ship, then consideration must be given to the quality of one’s life, as opposed to the quantity of life’s misgivings.

The vacation that wasn’t — it is the one that no longer refreshes because one’s medical condition has exceeded any benefits derived from trying to do more than what the body will any longer allow for, and that is the time to then consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, so that you may focus upon the priorities of life: One’s health and future well-being.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Retirement for Medical Incapacity: The boxes in Standard Forms

For some forms, it is a convenience to have a restrictive, limited “box” in which to put the “x” into, or maybe the needed “Not Applicable”; others, however, try and contain a limited narrative and force succinctness into the standardization of answers.  That is all well and good, and perhaps from a bureaucratic standpoint and perspective, the conformity of forms and the mandatory “answers within a box” makes for streamlining of paperwork.

The reality, however, is that some questions cannot be answered — and more importantly, should not — within the proposed space allocated, and so you have two (2) choices: decrease the font size in order to fit a greater substance of the narrative within the provided box, or attach a continuation sheet despite no indication in the standard forms for allowance of such cheekiness of presumptuous creativity.

How does one identify which Standard Form should be prepared and completed within the confines of standardization, and which ones should not?   First, a conceptual identification should be applied: Which ones are merely “informational” that request only singular answers, and which forms make queries that compel for narrative answers?  Once that initial, identifying bifurcation is made, then the next step is to determine whether an adequate and sufficient response can be stated within the “box” provided within the font-size allowing for regular eyesight that does not require extraordinary magnification, or if a continuation sheet is necessary.

Thus, in a Federal Disability Retirement application, certain Standard Forms are merely informational — for example, the SF 3107 series which asks for basic, factual information.  Then, of course, there is the SF 3112 series, and especially SF 31112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker under FERS, who is considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the greater mistake has often been to quickly annotate within the boxes provided a swift “jotting down” of the medical conditions one “feels” — as if the body parts providing temporary sensations for a given day, or even the lack thereof, will sufficiently satisfy the eligibility requirements that must be met in order to become approved for a Federal Disability Retirement annuity.

Make no mistake about it: there can be dire legal consequences if SF 3112A is not completed properly and sufficiently.  And always remember the philosophical dictum: That which is necessary may not be necessarily sufficient, and that which is sufficient may not be sufficiently necessary.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The performance fallacy

The disproportionality that occurs between reality and make-believe is nowhere more apparent than in the Federal sector involving performance reviews prepared for Federal employees across all agencies and departments: of being “fully successful” and having those “outstanding” appraisals year after year, and yet….  You don’t feel that such appraisals, despite the blush that it may evoke, reflects the reality of what you have been doing.

The body that warms a position, despite its declining productivity, is the one the Supervisor or Manager does not want to lose; for, to retain a known quantity is better than to lose one and gain an unknown one.

Then, of course, there is the reality of the Federal employee who experiences a deteriorating medical condition, and has come to a critical juncture and decision-making point of what is often referred to as a “Gestalt” moment, or that “Aha!” experience, where one comes upon the realization that one is not immortal; and despite being brought up on Star Wars, the “Force” and other fantasies that human frailty can be overcome by sheer will of the mind — that, disregarding all of that childhood nonsense, we are growing old and beset with medical conditions that remind us that we are no longer the spry chickens just hatched from the warmth of a hayloft beyond the red barn’s rooster call.

Then, there is the “performance fallacy” — somehow, no matter how terribly we feel; no matter the amount of recent sick leave taken, or LWOP requested, the appraisals continue to exceed our level of productivity.

Considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management under FERS?  You have the medical condition and, more importantly, the medical support to move forward.

Then, you pause because of the “performance fallacy” — the question being:  How can OPM approve a Federal Disability Retirement application if the performance appraisals continue to reflect the “outstanding” columns of productivity?  The short answer:  That is why the foundation of a case must be built upon a strongly-worded medical narrative, which implicitly rebuts and preemptively answers all such concerns, and that is where consulting with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law can be crucial to the successful outcome of a Federal Disability Retirement application.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: The futile treadmill

If an alien from another universe came to visit the world of Humans and somehow landed within sight of a gym or some semblance of a physical fitness facility, and remained invisible to the watchful eye, the single contraption that would puzzle and befuddle would be the treadmill.

For, ambulation upon the mechanical device would surely be observed; and upon a certain amount of time, the alien visitor would reflect that the person who remained upon the contraption would suddenly depart and actually go from Point A to Destination B, and so the puzzling conundrum of query might be: What in the world (or universe) was this person doing walking upon a revolving platform without going anywhere, then leaving it behind to then go somewhere?

All geared up with wires and headphones, with digital monitors that made beeping noises and flashing signals — but going nowhere; whereas the alien, who is dependent upon sophisticated time-warp technology in travel and transport, would consider the exertion of physical ambulation to be a primitive form of an inconvenience to reach a destination point, but would be quite enthralled by this act of futility upon a treadmill.

It is, indeed, an absurdity when one pauses and reflects: of a contraption that moves as if one is traveling, but without an individual who has any intent of reaching any particular destination point.  Or, what if the alien visitor were to view a randomly selected community from above — comfortably watching from its invisible spaceship hovering with telescopic devices — and sees the hundreds, nay, thousands of joggers and runners who begin from destination Point-A and…returns to destination Point-A.  Would that not similarly confound, confuse and befuddle?

From the perspective of the outsider, the futile treadmill has no purpose, no rationale, and certainly no cogent explanation that would account for the manner in which many of the human species behave.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are on a similarly futile treadmill — that of attempting to continue to work despite having a medical condition that tells you otherwise — it may be time to begin contemplating preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Federal Disability Retirement is precisely that benefit that is meant to get you off of the futile treadmill, and to begin to allow you to secure your future, as well as focus upon your health.  Getting off of the futile treadmill is the difficult part — of your dedication to your work and career; of the comfortable salary or wage that is being earned; and of the sense that, so long as you remain on the treadmill, somehow it will get you somewhere beyond the point of your medical condition.

Sometimes, however, the alien’s perspective is the more objective one, and remaining on the futile treadmill will continue to go nowhere or, worse, it may speed up and knock you off of the treadmill itself; then, what will you be left with?

Filing 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, is a daunting bureaucratic process, and the time is likely ripe to begin it now by consulting with a seasoned attorney specializing in Federal Disability Retirement law, lest the futile treadmill begins to leave you behind.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire