OPM Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: Recognizing Problems

Why are some better at preemptively addressing recognizable foreshadowing?  Is it a genetic predisposition related to the capacity of surviving?  Like the instinctive responses of animals, is it an inherent trait that favors those who are more “fit” with such a characteristic, and thus to the disadvantage of those who do not possess it, where recognition and preemptive engagement allows for survival and thus the genetic pool favoring by dominance of avoiding the mortality trap?  Have we replaced such instinctive abilities by relegating most problems to linguistic identification and capacity to solve?

For, in the human world where language prevails and electronic communication is now the preeminent engagement of consciousness, the “problems” to recognize are no longer the danger of an approaching predator nor the oncoming storm out in the middle of the ocean (although, a burning house or a hurricane imminent if you live on the coast are still real dangers), but for the most part, language games that need modification, curtailment or adjustment in order to correct the inconvenience of social constructs that have gone amok or astray.

Yes, the furnace may break down, the water heater may have sprung a leak, or the roof shingles may need replacing; but even those, the resolution is rarely one that is initiated by us; rather, it is to utilize the mode of communication and either by phone, email or text messaging, we make an appointment for someone else to fix the problem.  Recognition of the concern was still contained within the world of language, and the physical work attended to is relegated and delegated to some strange entity in another universe.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal employee or U.S. Postal Worker to take the next step by preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset – the process begins with a “real” problem:  the medical condition itself, which will not go away no matter the treatment modalities or the constant attempt to work one’s way through the chronic and progressively deteriorating situation.

Then, from the reality of the problem itself, the jump to recognizing the further concern must inevitably manifest itself – that of the incompatibility and incommensurate nature of the medical condition and being able to do all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties.

Thus, recognizing the problem is the first step in resolving the issues; however, resolution may sometimes need some expertise and advice beyond what the Federal or Postal employee can foresee in the foreshadowing of approaching dark clouds.  For, not all problems are equal, and certainly not all solutions, and while recognizing problems may resolve some of the concerns, the greater issue is whether the Federal or Postal employee will have all of the information available “out there” in the netherworld of an administrative and bureaucratic morass as that of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, such that the problems one cannot recognize may be the one that defeats the solution never known.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Answering Questions

How do we come to learn how to do it?  Certainly, we come across certain eccentric individuals who defy every conventional norm, and somehow manage to appear as if they have done what otherwise we recognize as not having been completed.

Have you ever come across someone who just isn’t “quite right” – such that, when you ask a question, the tangents that flood forth and the meandering thought processes make it an arbitrary conclusion as to whether it was the specific question asked that prompted the incommensurate response, or just the mere fact of a tonal posit of a question-like query that compelled a verbal reaction, even if it has nothing to do with the substance of the question itself?

How do children learn how to answer questions?  Is it natural; is there a systematized process of acceptability; is it taught in any course with a heading like, “Elementary Basics 101: How to answer a question”; and do we presume that acceptable and normative constraints are just learned effortlessly?  Certainly, the classical educational approach of dialectical methodologies – of a question posited; raised hands, chosen orders and an answer provided; then the reinforced positive feedback by the teacher in either affirming or rejecting the response – is an approach that somewhat answers the mystery.

But what of that “weird” kid?  The one where the teacher asks:  “Is the earth round or flat?”  The kid answers:  “That is an oversimplification, as the geometrical constructs require a perspective that betrays ignorance of quantum physics, where flatness is a relative concept to roundness, and vice versa.”  Now, one may smile and wonder whether, perhaps such a child prodigy reveals an intelligence quotient beyond his age or class assignment, but all the rest of the kids would just roll their eyes about as the class bullies await for recess hour in order to beat that kid to a pulp.

But was the question answered, and to that end, satisfactorily?  Or, what if another kid, perhaps half-daydreaming, suddenly blurts, “It’s blue!  It’s blue!”  Did that kid answer it any less adequately than the first?  How do we learn to answer questions?

What if the questions are essentially legalese and incomprehensible, or of a “tricky” nature and makes one pause before moving forward?  Do questions posed, for instance, by law enforcement officials evoke greater caution (as in, “To the best of my recollection…”), and if so, why?  Is it because the stakes may be higher and the suspicion of the double entendre is always there?  Which brings us to the problem of Federal Disability Retirement applications, and specifically SF 3112A – Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

The questions posed on the Standard Form 3112A seem simple enough; but simplicity does not necessarily mean straightforward, and indeed, when a Federal or Postal employee is completing SF 3112A, it is best to go back to fundamentals and ask yourself, How did I learn to answer questions, and are these questions the type that may need additional help, because – though they may seem simple enough and not quite in legalese – there is some trickiness in the very simplicity of the query.

And it is the rule to remember, that the simplest questions require the greatest pause, where suspicion will warrant a more extensive pondering of reflective repose.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The cadence of coherence

There is truth, then the ring of truth.  The former may extract a pound of flesh or a quart of blood from the reader, yet allow the subtle entrapment quietly releasing the cornered soul merely by being unpersuasive.  The latter, despite often lacking in some essential details, will nevertheless engulf the audience, whether intended or indirect and unaware, into a comatose purring of half-conscious slumber, where acceptance of an argument because of a danger of violating the pleasantry of the moment is more important than embracing the facts themselves.

That is, of course, what is ultimately “wrong” with the writing style of a diatribe; it is the seething, subterranean anger in the undercurrent of a volatile eruption like the bursting lava from an unconstrained volcano where civilizations perish and survivors flee with but the clothes on their backside, which fails the purposive teleology of a barrage of words.

The persuasive outlier must possess the heart of a musician, the humor of an invited conversationalist, and the soul of a philosopher; otherwise, the dinner audience may begin to yawn and request to excuse themselves for various reasons, including an early exit for want of company.

The truth is, truth itself is boring.  It needs sugar, spice and all that is nice; wrapped in paper which stands out, but refuses the ostentatious condiments of vulgarity in a universe surrounded by stellar vacuity.  Convincing truth, on the other hand, possesses a disposition of a rhythmic melody, orchestrated with precision by a master with a conductor’s baton not made of any particular wood, but where the waving and weaving flows in consonance with the confluency of nature, artifice and linguistic pablum.

In any effective narrative, there must always retain the cadence of coherence.  That is often the “trouble” with Federal Disability Retirement applicants who formulate his or her own narrative of persuasive concoctions; will the U.S. Office of Personnel Management drink of the vitriol seething beneath the surface of turmoil?  Will the obvious diatribe translate into a persuasive cadence of coherent ideations?

Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, have a dual whammy of obstacles to face:  They themselves must be the focus of the narrative; and, moreover, they themselves must present a voice of objectivity.  Both are immediately undermined when the medical condition itself is the very reason, rationale and underlying foundation for which the entire Federal Disability Retirement application must be prepared, formulated and forwarded to one’s Agency (if not yet separated, or separated from the Federal sector but not for more than 31 days) or directly to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Preparing the answers required on SF 3112A (Applicant’s Statement of Disability) requires a quiet, rhythmic cadence of coherence; to do so, the origin, source and inception of the narrative must emanate from a composite core made of materials tougher than metal, yet sensitive enough to touch upon that human yearning which defines the empathy of timeless angels.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Medical Retirement: The Other Side of Darkness

Darkness can take many forms; of the physical omission of light, the loss of visual capacity, or the mood of a person within the context of modernity, complexity and loss of moral intransigence.  Light provides the energy of life, and when that core vibrancy is sapped and depleted by either or all of the sources of light, then darkness prevails.  Once extinguished, the last remaining flicker persists only through sheer self-determination, a plan for future reigniting, or the delicate cherishing of a hope still unforeseen.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition endangers the ability and capacity to continue with one’s chosen career or field of opportunities with the Federal Government or the U.S. Postal Service, the daunting task of securing one’s future while simultaneously dealing with the medical condition itself is often of overwhelming proportions which floods with constancy of darkness without the hope of light or flame yet extinguished.

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, is often the best and wisest course for the Federal or Postal employee to undertake, in order to escape to the other side of darkness.  For, to remain is to wither; to pursue is to tire; to attain is to relive and realign the priorities which once foretold of future hope, but which now must be readjusted in order to attenuate the challenges which life has brought, and for which this side of light and the other side of darkness become one and the same.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Disability Retirement Benefits: Shame

Anthropological commentators have variously pointed out that the human being is the only one of the social animals to exhibit the characteristic of shame, and then quip with a spirit of mocking sharpness, “and the only ones who have a need to be”.  But the problem of shame is that the responsiveness exhibiting that overwhelming sense of self-immolation is often misdirected. Shame, or being ashamed, can occur resulting from the collective behavior of others, where a majority opinion can persuade through ostracizing, manifesting group hostility, or through persistent hammering.  It can even be through the misinterpretation of the normative behavior and conduct of acceptable societal customs and social rules of engagement.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, such a misdirected response is often seen when a medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.  For the Federal or Postal employee who feels such “shame”, there is often a dual track of thought-processing:  A.  The Federal or Postal employee is unable to do all of the positional duties assigned and expected, and as a result, one feels “shame” for that lack and growing inability, and B. the medical condition itself makes one “ashamed” because it constitutes a reduction of the whole person, and the societal stares and hushed whispers reinforce one’s self-image that, somehow, one is “less” than the aggregate shown by the collective others.  And there is often a third, where:  C.  As work has become the source and sole reservoir of one’s sense of worth and accomplishment, so the potential loss of it results in a growing sense of shame, embarrassment and self-hatred.

Indeed, the loss, or the potential loss, of one’s identity at the workplace is a profoundly devastating undermining of one’s own self image.  But that is where the misinterpretation of values originates; for, by placing so much emphasis upon the goal of a herd’s collective mission, one fails to properly prioritize an individual’s sense of self-worth.  Health, and the need to recognize one’s place within the greater context of society, must always be taken as the priority of life’s misgivings.

For the Federal or Postal worker who has misinterpreted the importance of work over health and family, preparing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often a difficult trial to undertake.  But it must be so, and recognition that compassion is the antidote to the false sense of shame experienced when the fate of a medical condition begins to deteriorate one’s health, capabilities and ability to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, is to merely be human, and it is not even erring which acknowledges such humanity, but a condition of life which is neither the fault of the Federal or Postal employee, nor within the control of the future, but within the soft breath of the gods who smile upon the infirm with love and empathy — those true attributes of heavenly concerns.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Disability Retirement Lawyer: At What Cost?

The introduction of the “cost-benefit analysis” (CBA) by the French (who else?) is a quantitative approach in determining whether to go forward with a given project.  There are other approaches, of course, but the popularity of such a utilitarian paradigm is especially attractive to Americans, precisely because it allegedly places a determinable value upon the project, endeavor or issue in question.

But not everything in life is quantifiable in monetary terms; and while the CBA approach can take into account complex factors and assign methodologies of evaluating such that otherwise unquantifiable terms can be converted into numbers, the question still comes down to a simple issue of self-reflection:  Is it worth it?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have 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 positional duties, a cost-benefit analysis is often taken with a singularly stark question:  Can I survive on the annuity proposed by statutory authority?

But this often ignores a parallel query, just as stark and similarly singular: What other choice is there?  If the medical condition arose as a matter of a work-related incident, certainly the Federal or Postal employee under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset should file for OWCP/DOL benefits; but even then, Worker’s Comp is not a retirement system, and there will likely come a time when it is still necessary to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

The unquantifiable factors in any CBA are those more personal, intangible issues which we rarely desire to face:  What will happen if I ignore the present course of settings?  If I continue to work with my medical condition and somehow reach retirement age, what kind of shape will I be in to enjoy my “golden years”?  Will the agency tolerate my reduced productivity, and what will their next move be?

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is never an easy decision, and should not be taken without a thorough and self-reflective analysis; but it is often an approach tantamount to negative-theology which will bring out the true answers to a dilemma — of what will result if one does NOT do X, as opposed to a quantification of values — and provide the necessary framework for a future reference of positive closure to a human condition which always seems, at the time and moment of suffering, to be a calamity beyond mere dollars and cents, and for which the famous Utilitarian Philosopher, John Stuart Mill noted, that actions are right “in proportion as they tend to promote happiness.”


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Another similar article previously published: Federal Disability Retirement pros and cons