OPM Medical Retirement: The noisy neighborhood

Whether used as a noun or a verb, the second grammatical appendage can have multiple meanings: as a stick of lumber; as an activity placing information, warning, directional declarative or similar linguistic affirmations; and the combination of the two words can be read only within a greater contextual enlightenment depending upon what meaning is meant to be conveyed or how the inflection and accent is emphasized.

As a mere stick of lumber, it is a rather boring concept, even when attached to the first word, “sign”, precisely because the focus is upon the “post”, and so the emphasis goes directly to the sturdy piece of wood and not to the interests of the information posted.  If, on the other hand, one means to connote a different linguistic avenue – of different and varying posting of signs, then our interest is tweaked because we are immediately drawn into the various and wider universe of warnings, directions, admonishments and disseminated information useful to everyday living.

Sign posts are meant to guide, warn, betray or inform; and between the spectrum of the duality of linguistic translations, there is a natural reflection to life’s everyday humdrum itself.  For, like the analogy between information posted or merely a stick of lumber, living life is likened to a wide spectrum of activities mirroring boredom and repetitive monotony, and those instances where sudden tumult and excitement makes for an interesting day.

Being healthy can be viewed as a form of boredom; it is like the person focusing upon the stick of lumber, even if there are signs posting some warnings.  And, correlatively, when sickness and debilitating medical conditions occur, the viewpoint and perspective alters dramatically, such that the monotony of the piece of wood is now replaced with the blare of the warning, admonishment and legal declaratives, and life becomes a tumult, not merely a lapping wave but a tsunami of devastating impact.

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 the positional duties of the Federal or Postal employee’s job, the alteration of the perspective – whether seen as a “eureka” moment, a modified weltanschauung, or some reflective recognition of changed circumstances – the point is to shift the focus from the stick of lumber to the sign post itself: the job, the harassment, the constant antagonism and acrimony in the workplace – these are all the stick of lumber; one’s own medical condition, dealing with the doctors, the deterioration of one’s physical, emotional and mental capacity – these are the “signs”.

What we focus upon will determine the course of one’s future; and preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is the combination of both words as a compound concept: of recognizing the sign posts, and dealing with it accordingly.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Disability Retirement: Simplifying the Complexity of a Case

Have you ever had a technical person explain things in the mysterious jargon of his or her specialized field?  Or, the one who breaks it down into coherent components and translates it into a language game which is comprehensible?

Those in the former category are usually quite impressed with themselves, and are happy to hear the sound of their own voices as the supposed explanatory interlude maintains a semblance of technical competence superior to the audience of targeted turmoil.

The latter populace does what few have come to recognize:  competence is not determined by mere superiority of technical knowledge, but the ability and capacity to apply the knowledge, reduce it to its simplified contents, then provide an explanatory foundation through reduction of complexities into manageable form.  Otherwise, the esoteric nature of any discipline will be governed by every schmoe who can master the language game, without actually acquiring the technical expertise in the application of select knowledge.  For, in the end, the test of sincerity of words is not a compounding of further words, but of actions following up with a revealed understanding of both what was said, as well as done, in any given context.

Similarly, the fact that the salesman can talk the lingo of technology does not mean that he or she can fix a broken computer; it just means that the salesmanship is a learned volume of nice-sounding paragraphs.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the entrance into the universe of Federal Disability Retirement may be an option which must be entertained.  It is a surreal world of new terms, technical contents and definitional strangeness which constitutes a complexity beyond mere words, simply because the consequence of decisions made today will impact choices governed by tomorrow.

Can the complexity of the Federal Disability Retirement process be simplified such that comprehension of the bureaucratic procedures can be understood for its administrative context in the importance of both process and substance of content?  Because Federal Disability Retirement involves statutes, regulations and court case-laws of precedence from previous cases challenging various aspects of the process and substantive issues, the complexity of the entire venue is based upon the cumulative aggregate of decades in the making.  But of that larger universe of process and procedures, what splinter and slice is actually relevant to one’s particular case?  Probably a very small portion.  That is the focus which should be taken.

When one enters an arena of mystery, it is difficult to determine the relevance within the context; and relevance requires selective content and re-creating of one’s own context.  For Federal and Postal employees who need 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, the importance of simplifying the complexity of one’s own case should be governed by information, knowledge, and selective application of relevance and required completion of necessary content.

Try this for a change, as a test of the principle of knowledge and application:  enter one of those chain-gadget stores and hand the know-it-all salesman a gadget needing repair, and see the language game of competence turn to a stuttering paragraph of excuses and explanations about how the complexity of the component is simplified by the simple justification:  Not my Department.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Relative Importance of Minutiae

Triviality is in the eye of the beholder; though, there are some aspects of certain information which almost all can agree upon to be insignificant; but in this universe of informational overload, it is often the small, precise and extended bits which make up for the connecting bridges of relevance.

For the culinary sophisticate, the fact that an octopus has four pairs of arms makes for a greater feast, and if one were to pause and consider that the loss of an arm in its flight from a fisherman’s net might be insignificant from a human standpoint, the capacity to survive in the treachery of the undersea world may depend upon that lost tentacle.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and 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 overarching focus is usually upon the grand scheme of things — of the relative importance of the key elements which make up for an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

In the rush to quickly put together a Federal Disability Retirement application, it is easy to fill out and answer the Standard Forms, especially SF 3112A, the Applicant’s Statement of Disability, attach a compendium of medical reports and records, and hope for the best.  But it is often just as much the attention to detail — the minutiae of the little things, the world of microcosmic bits and floating information in the body of office notes and progress reports, like insignificant algae which forms as a film upon the pond’s surface, which results in the basis of a denial by a scrutinizing OPM Specialist.

Like the tentacle found in the fisherman’s net, it is only the keen eye which can tell which of the four pairs of arms it came from, except of course for the octopus, who well knows from the sensation of pain from which it derives.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire