OPM Disability Retirement Lawyer: That Spare Tire

We rarely think about it; and it is somewhere “back there”, in the event of, in case, if it happens, as a contingency, as an insurance policy, for the rare occasion of a potential mishap.  But with the modern ingenuity of reinforced rubber with a manufacturing process of innerliner calendering, one rarely even sees a car on the side of the road with a lone figure attempting to locate the spare tire, with the car unevenly perched upon a device secured in a dimensionally precarious manner, to change that flat tire.

But it does happen, and even with all of the advances in technology which resists direct punctures and roadside hazards pounding away at the four (or more) elements which keep the vehicle running, the flat tire and the need for a spare requires the safety net to ensure that secure sense of a peaceful mind.

Like life insurance, fire and catastrophic umbrella policies, the spare tire will always remain, no matter any future inventions or guarantees of outdated necessity.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are part of FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, Federal Disability Retirement is precisely that spare tire which provides a semblance of security if and when the need arises.

Most Federal and Postal employees continue their careers to the end, until the time of retirement, or a transference of talents and abilities to the private sector for more lucrative venues; but for that small percentage of Federal or Postal employees who find that, during the course of one’s career, a medical condition has interrupted one’s goals and prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, then preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is a necessary contingency to trigger.

Suddenly, the benefit looms larger than ever, is more important than previously recognized, and becomes lauded as the lifesaver of the moment.  That is precisely what we do with the spare tire — we do not even think about it, nor are aware of its precise whereabouts (except that it is under the vehicle, in the trunk, or somewhere “back there”), but travel about with the peace of mind that, in the rare hypothetical event of “if”, it is there to be accessed, so that once the change is made, we are again well on our way down the road of life.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Explanation & Intelligibility

The goal of an explanation is to achieve greater intelligibility; otherwise, if the latter is not achieved, the former loses its purpose.  If the explanation fails to provide a basis for the goal, it would then undermine its own rational foundation.

Law often loses sight of this simple principle, and feeds upon itself to justify the complexity of its own existence. But if the purpose of the legal field is to maintain a civilized society and to simplify the conundrum of life’s entanglements, then much of law fails to achieve its justifying existence.

For Federal and Postal employees who must wade into the complex and often mystifying realm of Federal Disability Retirement law, the problematic and confusing aspects of standard forms, procedural hurdles and legal ramifications compounded by the debilitating effects of the medical conditions themselves, can be daunting and prohibitive.  Furthermore, while some explanations can be forthcoming, the problem with most is that they fail to correctly inform.

In this age of technological plenitude, where information is in abundance, but where verification of the sufficiency of information is often inadequate, it is important to seek intelligibility from sources which correctly explain.

Federal Disability Retirement is an important step for the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who finds that one’s medical condition prevents one from performing the essential elements of one’s positional duties in the Federal sector.

Whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, taking the affirmative step to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits begins first with an acceptance of the administrative process; next, one must seek an explanation in order to reach an understanding of the bureaucratic procedures; and, finally, one must achieve a sense of confidence in the process, which can only come about through reaching the goal of intelligibility, through explanation, and thereby reaching that plateau of understanding.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Disability Retirement for Federal and Postal Employees: The Diatribe

There may well be an appropriate time for a lengthy diatribe.  The act itself often finds its impetus in bitterness; it also implies a lack of control, overwhelmed by anger and originating in attribution by an act of injustice.  But where emotion controls rationality, the loss of sequential propriety normally results in a corresponding lack of coherence and comprehension.

For Federal and Postal Workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal Worker is under FERS or CSRS, the urge to right past wrongs is a compelling force which often erupts in a diatribe of sorts, within the content of a Federal Employee Disability Retirement claim. This is, unfortunately, a self-defeating proposition.

Yes, agency actions often comprise a compendium of injustices; yes, treatment of coworkers can be the basis of collateral actions; yes, discriminatory behavior may be a justifiable basis for filing EEO actions; but, no, weaving one’s frustration into the substance of a Federal Disability Retirement application is not the right path to take, for the simple reason that it is not the appropriate venue in which to vent.

Federal and Postal Workers who intend on filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, need to bifurcate the issues, and recognize the practical dualism in existence:  OPM is a separate Federal agency from the one employing the chronically ill or injured Federal Worker who intends to submit a Federal disability Retirement application (in most cases, unless of course the Federal employee works for OPM — and even then, the section which reviews the Federal Disability Retirement application is separate and distinct within the agency).

Context and appropriateness are invisible lines which need to be followed.  Diatribes may have their place in literature; it rarely serves a useful purpose in filing for CSRS or FERS Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Disability Retirement: Key Words, Conveyance of Information, and Satisfying the Legal Criteria

There is often a misunderstand about a Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS: that the magic of linguistic compliance will bring about success, as opposed to the compilation and delineation of information needed to meet the legal criteria in a case.

There are no “magic words” or “key phrases” which the Federal or Postal applicant, the treating doctor, or the lawyer representing the Federal or Postal employee, can utilize or include in any Federal Disability Retirement packet, which will ensure or otherwise exponentially increase the statistical variances of being successful in applying for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Rather, the “key” to a successful filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application is to compile the necessary and required documentation in order to meet the medical and legal criteria mandated by law, in becoming eligible and entitled to Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

The difference may be somewhat subtle: on the one hand is the misguided approach of thinking that Federal Disability Retirement application-X was successful because it contained certain key phrases and elements, and thus in thinking that a regurgitation and reenactment of those phrases or elements, if used in another Federal Disability Retirement application, will result in an identical outcome.

The proper approach (satisfying the converse grammatical requirement and avoiding the necessity of saying, “on the other hand”) in opposition to the “key phrase” thought, is to recognize that each Federal Disability Retirement application-Y is constituted by unique facts and medical data peculiar to the individual case, but that in the application of those facts and data, compliance with the administrative criteria is somewhat self-reflective. Similarity, however, does not imply successful extrapolation of previously-applicable content from another Federal Disability Retirement application.

That is the mistake which is often made: One success often leads to the laziness of regurgitation; to put it crudely, one can starve by feeding upon the same food within a confined organic digestive system. In the end, a successful Federal Disability Retirement application must not rely upon prior successes, but rather, recognize the uniqueness of each set of circumstances, apply the relevant law to such peculiarities, and argue the evidence in the context of the conveyance of information meeting the statutory criteria espoused by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in a Federal Disability Retirement application.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal and Postal Workers: “Why?”

The ability to question is perhaps the highest form of consciousness.  Without it, the next level of any narrative form would cease, and no prompting of a search for an answer will develop.

That is why effective trial work — from persuasive direct examinations to devastating cross-examinations, guided by pointedly-prepared questioning — requires thoughtfulness and contemplated direction.  Some questions, however, become avenues for paralysis.  They may, for a time, help to ease the troubles of one’s soul, but they are ultimately unanswerable ones which cannot be comprehended in the limited universe of one’s mind.

Thus, when a Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition asks the question,”Why?” — it is legitimate, but one which may not have an adequate answer.  One must instead progress to a more pragmatic question: What to do about it. Where to go from here.  The “why” may need to be left aside, for another time, during a more contemplative period of recuperation.

For Federal and Postal workers, time itself can be a critical factor, and in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, because the bureaucratic process itself is a long and complicated one, it may be of benefit to set aside some questions, and instead focus upon the pragmatic questions which set one upon a path of purposive direction.

The height of man’s consciousness may be the result of evolutionary factors, but the most fundamental of questions should begin with that primitive foundation of all: self-preservation.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Bureaucracy and the Objective Algorithm

On the one hand, objectivity can be viewed as a positive thing; for, with it, one is assured that all applications are treated equally, by the implementation of identical criteria across the board.  “Gut feelings”, personal beliefs, and that “sixth sense” is eliminated; and thus is fairness achieved by the equal treatment of all cases, and “exceptional circumstances” are not, and cannot be, considered.

What such an approach gains in large-scale application, however, may lose out in individual cases.  For, if experience and age accounts for anything, it should allow for decisions made outside of the mainstream of thought, based upon those very factors which make up the difference — wisdom from years of engaging in a particular endeavor.

The problem with the bureaucratization of a process is precisely that it fails to allow for exceptions; but concomitantly, it is precisely those unique circumstances which cry out for a carved-out exception.  In a Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, there are always cases where all of the facts and circumstances reveal eligibility; but in applying the mathematical (and thoughtless) algorithm of criteria-based analysis, there may be something missing.  Perhaps the doctor would not, or could not, say exactly X; or the test results revealed nothing particularly significant.

In some ways, the medical conditions identified as Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome represent such scenarios.  In those instances, it is important to descriptively convey the human narrative in a particularly poignant manner.

The administrative bureaucracy is here to remain among us; to rise above the level of thoughtless application of a criteria, however, one must creatively encourage the phoenix to rise from the ashes of boredom, and span its wings to include those others who deserve the benefits of Federal Disability Retirement.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Key Words and Phrases

In every writing endeavor, there arises over time an identification of the efficacy of certain key words and phrases.  The problem with such identification, however, is that the deliberate extrapolation and insertion of such “keys” will often lead to over usage, inapplicable repetition, and loss of effectiveness resulting from the very recognition of the centrality and importance of such words and phrases.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, there is often a tendency to want to know what the “key” is to the successful outcome of a Federal Disability Retirement case.  It is like searching for the entrance to a secret passage:  we believe that if X is discovered, inserted into the proper keyhole, then the mysteries of that which we fail to understand will be opened.  But proper flow and substantive appropriateness of any medical terms must always be considered within a greater context.

Ultimately, it is not any particular word or phrase which leads one onto the path of success in a Federal Disability Retirement case; rather, it is the substantive conceptual underpinnings behind such words and phrases which matter.  Not the words themselves; nor the phrases which describe; rather, the meaning behind such words and phrases within the context of the entirety of one’s medical condition — that is the key to a Federal Disability Retirement case.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire