Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: The option of nothing

The path of least resistance is often to simply do nothing.  To make an affirmative choice is sometimes a painful one involving sacrifice and steps taken which will determine an outcome, later to be judged by retrospective insight, as to whether it was the “right” one or a “wrong” one.

To negate, refute or otherwise do the opposite, and to say “no” in the choice-making process, is also an “affirmative” one, if only in the negative sense.  It is still a call made, a judgment asserted, and while the “no” may not be able to arrive at a retrospective viewpoint as to whether it was the “right” one or the “wrong” one (precisely because, in the very negation of making a choice, one may never see any further consequences, but merely a nothingness that prevails from the option to not do that something, which is essentially a double-negative that results in nothing).

The worst option to assume is to allow lapse to occur – to do nothing, neither affirmatively nor negatively, and allow outside circumstances to determine the course of fate.  In taking such a path of least resistance, two things occur: First, you have left it in the hands of circumstances, and failed to take any affirmative steps in the allowance of lapse; and Second, the fact that you will never know it was a good or bad idea to allow for the lapse means that you have forsaken the entire decision-making process, and thus you disengaged yourself from the importance of life’s major participation.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the Statute of Limitations that imposes a restriction upon post-separation filing is One (1) Year.

Thus, the law is as follows: Upon separation, whether by termination or resignation, of a Federal employee, that Federal employee has up until 1 year to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  If the Federal employee files for Federal Disability Retirement within 364 days of the separation from Federal Service (give yourself at least 1 day, just to be on the safe side), then no harm is done.

If the Federal or Postal employee determines not to file (i.e., a negative – affirmative decision), then so be it, and after the 365th day, that Federal or Postal employee is forever prevented from asserting his or her rights under the Federal Disability Retirement laws, acts, statutes and regulations.

If the Federal or Postal employee simply does nothing – neither making an affirmative or a negative decision, and simply allows for the time to lapse and the opportunity to pass – then the path of least resistance has been taken, with the opportunity to engage in the decision-making process forever lost.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Disability Retirement: Carpet Bombing

It is an approach meant to saturate an identified area of enemy territory especially recognized as any and all potentialities related to the central target.  The antonym of such an approach is one of targeted precision, such as drone strikes represented by guided missiles upon a specific individual or area of identified combatants.

In either case, collateral damage can be expected; the difference is that in the former methodology, the invading forces remain unconcerned and unperturbed, as it is fully expected; in the latter, the term “precision” has its narrow focus, but with the real-world recognition that general public consumption likes to think that when a targeted focus is declared dead, the rubble of destruction didn’t extend to the entire block surrounding the individual’s living area, when in fact it did and almost always does.  The concepts thus have differing distinctions; in linguistic and semantical disputes, the issue often has to do with the methodological approach of effectiveness.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the former approach of “carpet bombing” is often the preferred choice, as opposed to the latter perspective of “precision bombing”.  That is exactly why Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who prepare an OPM Disability Retirement application often attach a massive volume and compendium of medical reports and records, hoping to “hit the target” just by sheer coverage of length and width of evidence.

But the old proverb referring to the depth of a body of water, as opposed to the appearance of naked body surface, remains applicable and instructive.  And while the skin may be the largest organ of the human body, covering some 22 square feet in space, the loss of a great portion of it still allows for survival, whereas the heart of a man must remain generally intact, lest the flow of the essence of life becomes restricted or cease altogether.

Precision in every approach and methodological conveyance is almost always the preferred mode; and while systematic formulations in an OPM Disability Retirement case may involve greater input, expansive time and attention in properly preparing the effective Federal Disability Retirement case, the preparation spent in fine-tuning every Federal Disability Retirement application and its compendium of attachments will result in limited collateral damage, with the consequence of allowing others to survive another day despite living within the vicinity of the targeted point of attack.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: The Legal Language Game

Wittgenstein’s contribution to Western Philosophy was an extension of a line of English linguistic/analytical approach to unraveling substantive issues of confounding puzzlement.  Leave it to the British to resolve all problems through the correct usage of language — or, in his case, of Austrian-British conversion.

Within every context of societal constructs, there are unique conventions of linguistic acceptance.  Thus, the “language game” when engaging a Rapper will necessarily be different from that of having a polite dinner conversation with the Pope, and discussion with a computer geek will take on a different tone and content than speaking to a 2-year old.

Similarly, there is a specific language game when entering the legal arena — often characterized by aggression, subtle threats, compelling force and the Roman Centurion admixture with troubadourian  characteristics ready to paper-massacre the opponent.  Words like “liability”, “sue”, “court order”, “subpoena”, “deposition”, “money damages” — they comprise the extensive corpus of the language game of lawyersAdministrative law is a sub-facet of that legal route, but involves a bureaucratic maneuver which involves just as a great a level of complexity and specialized knowledge.

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is an administrative legal process which asserts the right to, and compels the attainment of, a Federal benefit from OPM for Federal and Postal employees under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  It is not simply “given away”, and must be secured through proof of a level rising to a preponderance of the evidence.  There are legal precedents to follow, statutory and regulatory components which must be adhered to, and laws both stated and implied which encapsulate the whole of the language game of OPM Disability Retirement.

As a subset of the greater language game of “The Law”, it is a winding route of mazes within precipitous promontories involving a complexity of conundrums — not quite as esoteric as the language game of mathematics or physics, but somewhat akin to computer geekery and macro-economics.  Add to that the sword of yore utilized by a Roman Centurion ready to attack, transformed into the mighty pen (or, in modern linguistic update, the laptop computer).


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Disability Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Life’s Work

There is, then, the job or career we undertake (the distinction between the two is often lost, and depends in large part upon a multiplicity of factors, including length of commitment, opportunity within a given field for growth and advancement; whether any qualifications, certifications or professional degrees are required, etc.); and then, the conditions and context of participating in a greater culture of our choosing, including where we live, with whom we live, what social circles we expand into; as well as how we interact with the extended community surrounding us, and whether we even decide to abide by the rules, laws and limitations imposed by society.

The former constitutes the work we engage during our lifetimes; the latter, the macro-aspect of the work generally confronted during a lifetime.  We often confuse the two.  The conundrum and internal turmoil comes about because so much of the latter often depends upon the success of the former.  Without the wealth amassed through the work of labor, we become limited in the choices we have in the work of living; thus do some choose a life of crime or cheating, as a means of shortcutting and supplementing the former for the latter.  And when the work of labor is cut short, or somehow interrupted, one realizes the impact upon the greater work of life, and must adjust accordingly.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s work or career, the choice to leave the Federal sector is a difficult one, and not just because of the financial considerations which reverberate upon the greater work of living.  Often, the choice to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is paused for reflection, procrastination and further delay, because the two concentric circles of life have overlapped to such an exponential degree that one cannot easily be bifurcated from the other.

One’s work of labor involved the social circle; it intersected with the greater percentage of daily living; the meaning and teleological motivation was commingled; even some of the neighbors work in the same neighborhood, just down the street, in our town (yes, it is an unabashed reference to Thornton Wilder’s famous play), or perhaps even next door; so, how can I face a change from the work of labor, without confronting the greater vicissitude in the work of life? But then, there is that medical condition, and it is always the interrupting reality of the medical condition which must, by necessity, be focused upon.

Better to make decisions now, when one has the option to do so concerning the work of labor, lest the limitations are imposed by others, which then can have irreparable consequential reverberations upon the greater work of living.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Medical Retirement from Federal Government: The Run

Stockings and watercolors do it; time, with quietude and solace of a steady march, moving with predictable sequence like the consistency of a drumbeat; and, of course, the rhythm reminiscent of cardiac health, as do joggers and concerned citizens chasing down a purse snatcher to retrieve a possession of identity.  And life, too.

Sometimes, there is a good “run” of something — a lengthy period of calm and productivity, where all of the pistons of a complex and interactive mechanism akin to a turbo engine are firing away in tandem, and life is good, fruitful and positive.  But the inevitability of a breakdown can always be around the proverbial corner; a medical condition, suffered by a Federal or Postal employee, is not merely a stoppage of such a “run”, but can be a disruptive cacophony of ceaseless interruptions, both to career and to personal contentment.

The key is to get beyond, over, or around the obstacle which lands in the middle of one’s pathway for future well-being.  The child who fails to see the watercolors running; the invention of the stockings that never run; the life that seemingly runs smoothly; all, a perspective wrought at a price of neglect or deliberate ruse.  The fact is, life always has interruptions.

A medical condition can be a major one, and when it begins to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the Federal or Postal employee under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset may need to consider an alternate course and begin anew a run of a different sort.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is indeed a change of course.  It involves a complex bureaucratic strategy to get from point A to destination B, and the administrative obstacles are many, but not insurmountable.  And, like the verb itself, it provides many meanings for differing circumstances, but the one and central root of the process involves embracing the paradigm that life is never as easy as one thinks, and like the child who believes that he is the next Picasso in training, the run of the unpredictable always betrays the truth of our condition.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire