Federal Disability Retirement: The Pathway of Choice

Pathways are peculiar entities; pre-Google Map times, they were a maze of forbidden routes, romanticized by a generation who were familiar with the television series, Route 66, and about hitchhiking, wrong turns, Robert Frost’s famous poem and Rand McNally road maps.

Now, of course, Google guides, directs, and (sometimes) allows for avoidance of unnecessary delays.  But is it the pathway of choice, and even more importantly, is the pathway chosen the best one for each one of us, the most advantageous for us, and the one which ultimately is in our best interests?  If the pathway that is chosen is simply so because all others are never known, or merely because that is the Robert-Frost-look-alike, when in fact it is delimited because of our lack of knowledge, is it really out of choice or of necessity?

Perhaps the career chosen is not turning out to be the realization of one’s dreams; or, as sometimes happens, an unfortunate set of circumstances has intervened — like a medical condition — and suddenly the pathway of choice that we thought would fulfill our hopes and dreams no longer seems possible; then what?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal Service workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition no longer allows us to perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal positional duties, the pathway of choice for the immediate future may seem constricted:  Stay put and suffer; walk away with nothing; or, prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

That is the tripartite fork in the immediate road on the way to one’s pathway of choice; but then, there are other “forks in the road” beyond, such as being able to work at another job after one has been approved for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether in the private sector or in a state, county or municipal employment scenario.

Don’t be restricted to the immediacy of one’s pathway of choice, for there are many forks beyond, and the pathway of choice as dictated by Google maps only tells you which turn to make in the next quarter mile, and not about what may be chosen in future lives yet unforeseen.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Disability Retirement: Fate & Consciousness

The concept of fate attaches a sense of termination and determined outcome; and consciousness beyond mere awareness of presence where a self-reflective realization of one’s self, the “I” in a world among others, and the further mirror-image of stepping outside of the self and having the capacity to recognize the “I” as another you among a multiplicity of others, creates the question of free will, self-determination and conscious action.

Whether the end of anything and everything is predetermined; whether causal forces in a universe of physical laws control and conform individual actions; and further, whether one’s conscious and deliberative intent makes a whit of difference in the macrocosmic universe of dialectical forces, is a puzzlement to be pondered perennially in Western Philosophical thought,especially in today’s debate involving the attempt to make language conform to pure scientific materialism.

Whatever the outcome of the debate encompassing mind/body dualism, the existence or not of consciousness where materialism and language reductionism to physical terms involving neurotransmitters and organic, genetic compounds explaining behavior and psychology, the individual who must live and act still holds to the idea that one’s choices in life make a difference, however small, insignificant and irrelevant. And, for the singular individual, a decision which may have no impact in a macro sense, but of a large and important consequence in the tiny, microcosmic universe of one’s personal life, whether fate and deliberative consciousness in decision-making makes any difference at all, is something we cling on to.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from continuing to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties in the Federal or Postal position, the fate and conscious decision to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS, or CSRS Offset, is a major decision of life-shaking and earth-shattering proportions.

In the end, the great philosophical debates which have dominated Western thought must be put aside when personal life-events predominate. Such mind-enhancing discussions are nice for a day, or between colleagues and in the ivory tower of academia; but the reality of a medical condition, the possibility of the end of a career, and the need to decide upon one’s future, while all of relative insignificance in proportional contrast to The Great Debate; in the end, for the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal Worker, the onset of a medical condition and the need to file for OPM Disability Retirement benefits from OPM will possess greater significance than the question of fate, consciousness and the consequences of believing in a predetermined universe. Or, to paraphrase Bertrand Russell, when one is overcome with thoughts about the greater universe, it may just be that we have an unsettled stomach.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Kierkegaard’s Either/Or

Life is often a series of disjunctions and bifurcation of choices; in mathematics and logic, such series of “either/or” options or “if and only if” algorithms provide a neat analytical explication of a problem.  But in daily living, numerical precision is replaced by a complex series of pragmatic decision-making options which rarely fit into a predetermined set of constants.

Soren Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher of some note, whose work entitled, “Either/Or”, presented the stark choice of following a normative life governed by principles and ethics, or one of hedonism and self-interest. One might argue that there are always “middle grounds” where such choices overlap; but the clarified standards as presented allow for foundational paradigms to be followed; let life itself impart the complexities we create of our own making.

For Federal and Postal employees considering the important step of preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, there is unfortunately a bifurcation of stark options.  For, as there are no short-term disability benefits available (unless it is a work-related injury, in which case one may file for OWCP/Department of Labor benefits; or some private disability policies), the choice is to either remain with the agency and the Federal system, and continue to deteriorate with the progressive decline of one’s health, or to file for a benefit (Federal Disability Retirement), where the medical condition must last for a minimum of 12 months and where one is separated from Federal Service upon an approval of an OPM Disability Retirement application.

The paradigms presented are clear.  The difficult part is in taking the necessary steps to choose between the disjunction of that which life presents, without getting caught up in the logical inconsistency of a world which believes itself to be rational, but acts in ways which are clearly contrary to its own normative constructs.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: The Disjunctive between Words and Actions

In symbolic logic, there is the disjunctive which allows for a choice between two elements, and one must exhaustively pursue the symbolic “tree” in order to arrive at a logical conclusion.  At each fork in the road, there remains a choice; the pursuit of each road leads to the answer one searches for.

Similarly, in life, one is often confronted with such metaphorical “forks in the road“, and the choice which one embraces will determine whether the path taken leads to — if not a logically sound outcome — a reasonable judgment.

Throughout the career of the Federal or Postal employee, a sense of “loyalty” is stressed; that if one works hard, one will be rewarded; if the agency succeeds in its accomplishments, the individual worker who contributed will be acknowledged, praised, etc.  But the true test of sincerity is actions, not more words.

When the time comes when a Federal or Postal employee is overwhelmed by a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, then that is precisely the time to “cash in” on that loyalty which the agency had previously and so honorably declared to be of penultimate importance.

Don’t count on it.

If one’s agency indeed confirms the sincerity of its words, then that is an exponential benefit to the process of one’s life and career.  But short of that, one has reached a true “fork-in-the-road”, tripartite in character, and the choice is often one of walking away, being constantly harassed, or filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Federal Disability benefits were always part and parcel of a Federal or Postal employee’s total compensation package.  It was part of the reason why you “signed on” as a Federal or Postal worker.

When the appropriate time comes — when a medical condition prevents you from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job — then it is time to go down that path, and pursue the tree of logic, and look out for one’s own best interest — and not merely be blinded by the words of an agency which somehow declares a state of amnesia when it comes to such vainglorious words like honor, loyalty, and the mission of the agency.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: The Knowledge of Others

It is often the spouse, or even the unnamed friend, who comes to recognize the need — even before the Federal or Postal employee.  Whether because of the distance between the person and the medical condition, or out of pure empathy, the “other person” knows that it is time to file for Federal Disability Retirement.  When that knowledge is conveyed to the person who actually suffers from the medical condition itself, then it is beyond the point of filing; it is, indeed, time to file.

In preparing, formulating, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the truth of the matter is that shirkers are rare, and a premature filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application is rarer still.

Federal and Postal employees who file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits wait until the point at which self-destructive continuation has already passed.  In fact, in many cases, the applicant’s own treating doctor has already repeatedly advised to “change jobs”, “switch careers”, “do something else in life before you really damage yourself”, etc.

That is why there is a (rightful) sense of injustice and unfairness when the agency itself is taken aback, and acts as if there is some nefarious motivation underlying the filing of the Federal Disability Retirement application.  However, what is important, as in all matters of importance, is the self-knowledge that it is indeed time, and those who question one’s motive know not what one’s family, friends, and caring “others” have already determined.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Paradigms for the Future

In attempting to decide to file for Federal Disability Retirement Benefits, it is often the case that Social Security disability benefits must be considered (not just “considered”, obviously, for FERS employees, because it is a requirement to file for it), and how seriously and vigorously; and further, whether to pursue, or to continue on, OWCP temporary total disability benefits.  These are “paradigms” that must be considered for the future.  By “paradigm”, I mean that they represent “models” of how a person wants his or her future to be based upon. 

For instance, let’s take the paradigm of Social Security disability benefits.  Because FERS employees who file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits must also file for Social Security disability benefits (to see if they qualify; and, if qualified, the offsetting features will apply), one must take into consideration whether or not a Federal or Postal employee will actually want Social Security disability benefits.  This question arises because Social Security has a “cap” in which a person who receives Social Security disability benefits can make ancillary earned income (roughly no more than $10,000 per year).  Because of this, one must think of the future paradigm of one’s life:  If a person on FERS disability retirement wants to go out and get a part-time job, or start on a path for another career, where he or she makes 15, 20, 25,000 per year or more (because remember, a person can make up to 80% of what a person’s former Federal or Postal job currently pays), then he or she may not want to get Social Security disability benefits.  Most people who are on Federal disability retirement are simply disabled from performing one or more of the essential elements of the particular job; they are not “totally disabled”, and therefore are able to go out and start a second career.  This is the “paradigm” for the future which must be considered, and such a model for the future must be carefully thought through.  Next:  the OWCP paradigm.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire