Federal Disability Retirement Representation: Last stands

Of course, the one that always pops up in one’s mind is the most ignoble of them all, with the image from the movies depicted over and over: Of a blond-haired, straggly and wild-eyed man with a mustache of extravagant vintage taking a desperate last stand against the charging Indians.  Custer’s last stand somehow reverberates throughout the mythology of the American West, even though folly is mistakenly replaced by some view of courage or other laudable character traits.

It is the last stand of American Lore; but there are many others besides, some known, most in the private worlds that never become public.  We all have them; the proverbial line in the sand, the wall against which our backs are blocked, or perhaps the final straw that breaks the camel’s back.

When Federal Agencies propose a removal of a Federal employee, it is the “last stand” both for the Federal agency as well as for the Federal employee.  Or, is it the “last straw”?  Is there a difference between the two?  The latter, of course, constitutes the final act by one or the other individual or entity, and represents a reflection of having no other alternative, no room for compromise and left with no other choice.  But that also describes the former, to the extent that it reflects a situation that allows for no further room but to remain resolved in whatever hill of pride or fortitude one must consecrate the grounds with.

Last stands, however, need not result in the consequences that Custer’s famous one represents.  It need not be the final arbiter of a life well lived, and still to be lived.  Yet, Federal and Postal employees 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 job, often look upon his or her medical condition as a “last stand” of sorts – one that ends one’s career and, in some mindsets, the very life that one is gifted with.

But keeping a balanced and proper perspective is important in all matters (though, for Custer as he realized that he had been boxed into a valley where there was no escape, perhaps there was no such thing as a “balanced perspective”), and the Federal or Postal employee finding him or herself in the “last stand” position of no longer being able to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, is still left with some alternatives – one being, filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

It is an option that should be seriously considered, for having the benefit of a Federal Disability Retirement allows for a second career in the private sector or public state or local government, and allows the Federal or Postal employee to continue in another vocation or career, thus avoiding the disastrous consequences that have been historically annotated by Custer’s last stand.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Expunging the negative

If all negative words were expunged from the universe, would we hold only positive thoughts?  Or, is there an inherent, innate need to recognize and state the negative, regardless?

If you are sitting in your office and a lion walks in, pounces upon your least-favorite supervisor and devours him whole, do you turn to your colleague and calmly say, “He lived a very good life.”  For, in such a universe, expunging the negative has been already accomplished, and such statements as, “Oh, what a horrible thing to have happened!” is no longer allowable, and the law has forbidden such discourse of linguistic negativity.  Is it possible?

Does conceptual thought depend upon individual language, vocabulary and grammar?  Are there tribes and communities where there exists no language that elicits anything but the positive?  What if there was no word for describing an idiot, or a mean, unpleasant person; would we break the new law and immediately recreate such words and refill our empty prescription such that expunging the negative, or any attempt thereof, becomes an activity of futility and exercise of frustration?  Do conceptual constructs exist without words to describe them, or do words and language games impose upon us a reality that would not otherwise exist?

Thus, if a person does something “mean”, and is caught doing it, but we have no vocabulary to describe, confront, or otherwise accuse the person of the wrongdoing, would a shrill scream or a primordial groan be sufficient, or would we have to “invent” a word for the indescribable event?  Or, would the counterintuitive alternative be the case: The event, not having a word to describe it, and thus there would exist no such conceptual construct, therefore means that it does not exist, and thus is not “wrong” because there is no vocabulary or language game to identify it.

Whatever one’s belief on the matter, expunging the negative requires, at a minimum, a deliberative intent to “remain positive”.  That is often easier said than done, especially if you are a Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of your Federal or Postal job.  You can certainly attempt to expunge the negative, but the reality is that the underlying medical condition, the harassment at work and the adversarial, hostile atmosphere will continue to exist.

Taking a “real” step – like filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset – is likely a more “realistic” approach, as opposed to relying upon expunging the negative and failing to see the emperor without his clothes.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Civil Service Disability Retirement: The value of properly preparing

Each and every stage of a Federal Disability Retirement process is important to view in the preparation of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  You cannot take any stage of the process in a vacuum; for example, answering SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, in and of itself forces one to consider stages beyond the Initial Stage of the process.

Questions to ask:  Are you bound by your answers without the possibility of further amendments to the narrative delineation you submit?  Can changes, amendments, additions be made even after a CSA/Case number is assigned by Boyers, Pennsylvania and sent on its way to Washington, D.C. for an initial assessment and determination by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management?  What if, in the meantime, a “new diagnosis” is provided, one which has not been included in the original Statement of Disability?

Should the language used in describing one’s medical conditions and the impact upon one’s positional duties and inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job be elastic enough to allow for greater content at a later date, or should it be concise, precise and without room for maneuver or wiggle?  To what extent will prioritizing of diagnosed descriptions be used, either for or against, one’s Federal Disability Retirement, and are there consequences in submitting a non-sequential order of non-prioritized conditions, whether in terms of a spectrum from severity of pain or relevance based upon conditions recognized to be “serious” as opposed to secondary, more exacerbated-based symptoms that are considered corollaries more than central conditions?

To view the world from a perspective of bifurcated and compartmentalized episodes, where each circumstance of life has no impact or connection to any other, results from the insularity of lives we lead.  But reality forces upon us the realization (note the close connection of the two words – reality and realization) that our own mental insularity does not impose a compelling argumentation upon the objective world; instead, we continue to delude ourselves into thinking one way, while the universe goes on and exists with impervious fortitude until the two contradict and ultimately clash.

For Federal employees and U.S. Post workers who try and defy the universe by ignoring the reality of preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, and further, by attempting to sidestep the methodology of analytical determinations made by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the onus is on you:  take care that you consider preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application carefully and with full view as to the value of knowledge and information, lest it come back to haunt you with a denial because you did not foresee the burden of proof.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Disability Retirement Law: The cruelty of our nature

Note that we are not positing that nature in general is cruel; for, in nature, predatory behaviors and devouring of one another is merely a tautological definition of nature itself, in the constant balance between prey and predator, betwixt overpopulation and dominance of one species over another, etc.  No, the “our” refers to a specific species – of the human kind.

Whether engendered and triggered within our genetic predispositions, or as Rousseau and Locke would have it, spurred on by the artificial constructs evolved from the social contract created for self-preservation, there is little denying that “our” nature is the cruelest of them all.  Little evidence needs to be pointed at in order to establish the case proving such a perspective – of wars, treatment of others, disregard for fellow members, neighbors and even strangers; no, the cruelty of our nature betrays the inherent meanness of our selves.

Yes, yes – there are always sociological and anthropological explanations – of mistreatment by a structural and inherent canopy of defiance; people left without hope for any future; lives destroyed by government regulations and other societal pressures; wars driven by sectarian and genocidal triggers further explained by economic changes and shifts of monetary and global policies; and of the rise of dominance by a few over the general populace.

There is little doubt that we are cruel because of who we are – at the top of the food chain, everyone struggling to merely survive.  Yet, it was always the belief that within us, there was a spark of the angel – of being just above the beast, and slightly below the heavenly orbs where wings of perfection remain yet to strive for.

When medical conditions erupt, necessitating the Federal or Postal employee to prepare, formulate and 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, it is well to keep in mind the cruelty of our nature – not necessarily in ourselves, but in the capacity and human capability of acting upon it by revealing to others the vulnerabilities caught in the web of our own genetic predispositions.

Care needs to be taken in protecting privacy; never underestimate the reactions that might occur by a Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service; and always bear in mind the wisdom of Shakespeare, who recognized the cruelty of our nature, “As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods.  They kill us for their sport.” King Lear, Act IV, Scene i.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Disability Retirement from Federal Government Employment: The broken record

Does the metaphor have any meaning for modernity, anymore?  Those discs made of shellac resin or vinyl, pressed into magical ridges where the needle would remain stable but for the warbling of the maze; but somehow that circular maze of ridges would have a scratch, directing the point of the needle to continue back into the previous ridge just traveled, like the lost child who cannot see beyond the walled ivy and keeps running frantically in circles, exhausted by the endless infinity of a pathway unable to be traversed beyond the limitless circularity of a philosopher’s argumentum ad nauseum, where tautology of teleology is likened to the boulder being pushed by Sisyphus.

But what of the individual who has never experienced the encounter with a broken record – neither in real life, nor in watching a movie or other inane television show where the manual labor of carefully lifting the needle by the undercarriage of a forefinger, then placing it gently onto the groove closest to the condemned one, possesses no contextual significance because of a lack of knowledge?

Those who have been dated by “aha” responses to such metaphors, take for granted such commonplace declarations; and when we meet with blank stares and confused eyelids, it dawns on us that there is no replacement for an actual experience of descriptive content.  For, the efficacy of the idiom itself is immediately lost upon an attempt to explain:  “You know, when a record starts to…”

And what of times previous to the introduction of the gramophone (boy, now we really are reaching back into time) – did the men and women from an era now past have such peculiar dialects that described repetitive droning of whining and complaining?  Was it something akin to, “Stop acting like a baying hyena,” where pioneers settled lands still dominating with lurking cries of wildlife and unsettled voices?

And what of foreign lands – countries afar and across the great oceans – did they recognize and identify the relevance of the repetition emitted by the spherical looping back upon a scratched surface, or was it ignored in other dialects as a ho-hum matter not worthy of creating a modern-day idiom to be added to the dictionary of everyday expressions?

The metaphor of the broken record is one whose utility has long passed; but for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition has become a chronic state of inability in performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, the underlying and substantive content of the intersection with one’s career and life, remains relevant.  For, to the Agency, the U.S. Postal Service and the Supervisors, Managers and coworkers with the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal worker – they view such chronic medical conditions like a “broken record” – of a fellow Federal or Postal worker who cannot “carry his or her” weight, anymore, and begins to treat the “situation” accordingly.

Human empathy lasts barely for a day; pernicious antagonism continues well beyond.  When it becomes clear that the Federal or Postal employee will no longer be able to abide by the conventions of the Federal or Postal rules, and others begin to view the use of Sick Leave, assertion of FMLA and constant need to shift workloads to others as acts to be punitively responded, it is time to consider preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in order to have that undercarriage lifted and placed gently onto the next ridge of one’s life, in an effort to avoid the metaphor of being a broken record.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Medical Retirement from OPM: Dreams, daydreams and nightmares

Of the first in this triplet trope, the concept can envision two distinct avenues:  in a state of somnolence, to have them with minimal control of appearance; or, in another sense, to possess aspirations beyond one’s station in life or current circumstances that may impute dissatisfaction.

The second in the series is somewhat connected to the second concept branching from the first; it is a moment of reflective escape, where the reality of “now” and the encounter with Being is temporarily averted and subsumed in a meditative silence of self-repose.  Some have the capacity to embrace and become lost in such quietude of an alternate universe, despite a clutter of noises or the distraction of tumult.  Then, some would counter that it is precisely in such moments that fleeing into a parallel universe of a mental cocoon is necessary in order to maintain one’s sanity in a world replete with a curiosity shop full of random violence.

And, of the third, we again branch into a duality with the proverbial fork in the road; for, such infamy of uncontrolled images and voices while in a sleeping slumber constitutes the primary definition; but, whether in metaphorical terms or engaging in trifling hyperbole, we attribute traumatic and frightful events by describing it precisely by the term at hand.

Dreams, daydreams and nightmares are all part of our daily lives, whether awake, half-aware, conscious or sub-conscious in multiple and mysterious modalities of living; but they serve a purpose which, whether explained away by psychologists, therapists, pseudo-intellectuals or just plain people of tremendous insights and uncanny foresights, they continue to remain the foundation for maintaining the sanity preserved within the insanity of the greater universe.

Without nightmares, how would the inner psyche expiate the images and sense datum we have involuntarily ingested?  Without daydreams, what would man hope for, live for, in circumstances of squalor and decadence?  And of dreams, how would the subconscious sift through the visual and information overload experienced daily and in voluminous onslaughts of quantitatively overwhelming constructs?

Or of the second branch, where aspirations and hope for a better tomorrow, though derailed by screams of destitution and unhinged by crying babies, drunken realities and unsavory circumstances, yet to dream for a better tomorrow is sometimes the only thread which separates the crumbling heart from a tinge of a fading smile.  It is precisely these that allows for man to wake up the next morning and seek a better tomorrow.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who find themselves with shattered dreams, escaping into a greater cauldron of daydreaming, or rustling in sleepless fits of nightmares unavailing, all because one’s career is on the proverbial “line” resulting from a medical condition which may cut short one’s dreams, daydreams and creating a chaos of nightmares, preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, may be the first step in the aspirational discourse needed to regain one’s equilibrium.

The importance of trifurcating between dreams, daydreams and nightmares is a prescient step towards recognizing that the reality of one’s present circumstances may be described as a “nightmare”, and perhaps those sleepless nights are filled with them; but in order for the Federal or Postal employee to dream of a better tomorrow, the leisure of daydreaming must be allowed, but always tempered by pragmatic steps which must be undertaken in the reality of day-to-day living, in order to reach a specific goal:  That of getting an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in order to reach that light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, which is neither defined by dreams, nor attained by daydreaming, and certainly not a nightmare to avoid.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Medical Retirement from Federal Service: Life’s burdens

In chaos, where does one find refuge?  One suspects that for children of modernity, the escape into the virtual world of computer games, Internet conversations, constant checking and updating of profiles, and the entire gambit of projects unrelated to the reality surrounding, is that very reservation of constancy which is needed by all.

Life has burdens; parents have an obligation and duty to contain and protect throughout those crucial periods of growth; but what happens when parents have never known the stability of life’s promise and become parents even before being ready themselves?   Do they, as well, have the leisure of becoming lost and transfixed upon the unreality of a virtual universe?  It would seem so, just by mere observation of local lore, of walking down any street in the country and seeing seemingly mature individuals transparently ensconced in a trance beheld by a mobile device.

Life has real burdens; upon birth, there was never an accompanying set of detailed instructions as to how to “deal” with them; and, in the end, it is questionable as to whether any generational transfer of wisdom could be imparted within a society where independence is encouraged and separateness of lives is demanded.  In a society where age determines adulthood, where division defines maturity and fissures constitutes the unassailable stamp of approval in becoming independent and partitioned; neighborhoods are merely so defined because of their antiseptic aggregation of nearness by cluster, and not because anyone is expected to actually interact with one another.

No, there is no such thing as sharing the burden, or lessening the load which one encounters in the course of living a life.  It is, indeed, an absurdity – and Sartre’s play, No Exit, reflects upon that issue, as we are born without asking, live without a means of filing an appeal, and die with souls extinguished without value or worth of knowing.  Knowing what?  Of that certainty of teleological embracing as in foregone eras, when faith, trust and a sense of belonging defined a life.

One may scoff and say that all of that is mere tripe; that there never was a time before when society breathed as an organic unit and life lifted burdens within the constancy of sustained relationships.  Even the old places are now being destroyed, and one sees the devastation of sectarian wars and ravages of inherited hatreds in countries where wealth and technology has not quite arrived, but where family units were still fairly intact.

For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker, life’s burdens become exponentially magnified when a medical condition begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s job.  When that situation arrives, it further alienates and separates, especially in a society which trumpets the virtues of independence, when in fact it merely identifies the loneliness.

Preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is one avenue to undertake, especially when it becomes clear that neither the Federal Agency nor the U.S. Postal Service is going to do what communities and neighborhoods of yore once did – of caring by providing an “accommodation” for one’s medical condition.

For, in the end, just as there was never a set of instructions accompanying a newborn’s life, so there is very little information “out there” for the Federal or Postal employee whose career may come to an end because of a medical condition, except for specialized areas of legal help which serves to lift some of life’s burdens in the process of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire