Early Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: The Gatekeeper

Garbage in, garbage out; leave the door wide open, and the flies come in; “we don’t live in a barn”; and other similar quips, quotes and quotidian truths abound to guide us throughout the day.  In Medieval times, the Gatekeeper held a prominent position of authority and safekeeping; trust was of paramount importance, and the potential for bribery to undermine loyalty and fealty to the inhabitants of the Court or Castle meant that treatment of the assigned individual demanded respect as well as adequate renumeration.

With the advent of privacy and the insular family unit, where community was replaced with walls of silence and solitude, the position of the gatekeeper was abandoned and relegated to the relics of antiquity.  Yet, while the public position has become extinct, the conceptual construct remains a necessity of choice.  Few consider the relevance, significance and importance the Gatekeeper, and so we allow for technology, any and all forms of television shows, images, opinions unfettered and logical (and illogical) consignments to enter and exit, leaving aside the mere tincture of bad taste to flow freely through our doors.

Who is the Gatekeeper in this age of unconfined information, where Orwell’s fears have been confirmed, and even more so; and where judgement, good taste and sheer hypocrisy of life matters not because “anything goes” and the only prohibition is to express one’s self honestly, lest the psyche and ego of one’s neighbor be offended and the thought police from the campus next door comes knocking on the proverbial wall in the middle of the night?  For, when the Gatekeeper was fired those many eons ago, we forgot that a locked door relied merely upon the person entering or exiting, and responsibility shared is no more than perils disbursed amongst the many, including those who fear not or carelessly sputter through life’s travails.

Now, for the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker who must consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, what relevance does the concept of a Medieval Gatekeeper have in this day of modernity?  Much.  And beyond, of greater relevance than you might think.  Garbage in, garbage out.

Leave the door wide open, and a denial might be guaranteed by OPM.  “We don’t live in a vacuum.”  And another:  Since the applicant in a Federal Disability Retirement claim has the burden of proof, such that a “preponderance of the evidence” standard must be met, who will be the determinant of what facts, relevant information and significant documentation is to be forwarded to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management?

In the end, the applicant, or his/her attorney of choice, is/are the Gatekeepers of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with OPM, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset; and like the Medieval Gatekeeper of yore, it is well to treat that position with respect, lest any undermined fealty results in the doors left wide and open for the haunting ghosts of yesteryear to enter and defile.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Accepted Disabling Conditions: Suicidal Ideations

It is perhaps the final vestige of societal taboo; for, at what point the human animal realized that self-destruction became an option is open for debate.  In the Animal Kingdom, it is rare to find species openly seeking to end life; the struggle to survive and the Darwinian inherency for self-preservation and survival remains as vibrant as ever.

Being diagnosed with “suicidal ideation” is normally associated with psychiatric conditions of Major Depression and Generalized Anxiety, where the acceptable level of stress-tolerance exceeds the capacity to withstand.  Each individual is a unique creature; in this cookie-cutting mold of society where people get lost in the importance of position, fame, accolades and a false sense of admiration, it becomes commonplace to question one’s sense of worth and value.

Psychiatry has never been a perfect science; some even question the validity of its approach, as it has now become overwhelmingly a pharmacological event, with some semblance of therapeutic intervention thrown in as an afterthought.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal Service workers who are contemplating 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 even CSRS Offset, the existence of suicidal ideations (or otherwise simply known as “having suicidal thoughts”) is often lost in the compendium of diagnosed psychiatric conditions, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), where a significant event has intervened which has resulted in traumatic reverberations in one’s life; Anxiety (or more officially identified as Generalized Anxiety Disorder); Major Depression; Bipolar Disorder, with spectrum symptoms of manic phases and depressive states; as well as schizophrenia and paranoia.

For relevance to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, the existence of suicidal ideations is often one more indicia of the seriousness of the diagnosed psychiatric conditions, but should never be determinative in whether one’s psychiatric condition is “serious enough” in order to be eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Indeed, there are many, many Federal and Postal employees who file for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, who suffer from Major Depression, Anxiety, PTSD and other forms of psychiatric conditions, without ever suffering from suicidal ideations, and yet are fully qualified for, and become entitled to, Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Further, as Federal Disability Retirement is based upon the algorithm of showing the nexus between one’s medical condition and the positional requirements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the impeding aspect of suicidal ideations may be negligible.  Rather, from a medical standpoint, it is one more factor of concern and consternation within a long list of diagnoses and symptoms which cumulatively form the basis for an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Disability Retirement: The Alliteration of Life

Cathartic calamities caused creatively cannot cooperatively contain characteristic contents clearly coordinated contumaciously.  Sometimes, the insistence upon form can result in the nonsensical loss of clarity in substance; life often reflects the absurdities we establish by convention and societal imposition, and we pay the price for it.

Life is like being a letter in a series of alliterative words; we are helpless in being attached, but cannot dissociate ourselves, separate one’s self, or otherwise excise the offending aspect.  We are forever wedded like the proverbial two peas in a pod, with an incessant but futile search for a seam to burst out.  The problem, too, is that it may all sound proper and profound; but beneath the surface of consonant melodies and mellifluous motions of letters harkening back with pleasantries of sound, sight and solace, the reality of it is that the emperor with no clothes needs to be called out, lest the closeted secrets remain dormant.

Medical conditions tend to make of life an alliteration of sorts; squeezed between the implanted word in front and crushed by the one behind, we are left without choices in being a pawn in the cycle of life’s fate.  Like the word that sounds melodious as it rolls off the tongue of the creator, we keep trying to fit in despite the absurdity of the substance and content.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, such a metaphor of life is well-known.  Despite being stripped of dignity and design, the Federal or Postal worker suffering from a medical condition is treated as half-human, half-worth and half-baked.  They are relegated to the corner office, the basement of windowless reserves, and raked over the proverbial coals to perform menial tasks meant to humiliate and defeat.  But it all “sounds nice” — the courageous attempts by the agency to accommodate; the superficial empathy shown by supervisors and managers; it is all meant to soothe.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is often seen as just another daunting task, an obstacle placed in front of the already-stretched limits of the Federal or Postal employee; but then, what choices are there?

Like the alliterative words caught between others just because of the consonant attached, the Federal or Postal worker with a medical condition represents the alliteration of life, and preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is merely another reflection in the pond of life, provided productively as previous payment portending possible potentialities progressively purchased.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement Lawyer: Preemptive Actions

Knowledge can be a dangerous commodity; partial, or little knowledge, can be all the more damaging, precisely because actions can result based upon incomplete information and slices of factually curtailed composites.

The Court of the Appeals for the Federal Circuit has previously pointed out one of the methodological deficiencies engaged in by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in its review and determination of Federal Disability Retirement cases:  of focusing upon that which is not included in a Federal Disability Retirement application, as opposed to reviewing the information of what has been received.

Such a distinction may be a subtle one, and a difference which can be easily overlooked, but it reveals much more than mere word-play.  For, what it manifests is an application of a criteria based upon an erroneous assumption, and one which continues to be applied to this day, despite case-law which admonishes OPM to the contrary.

Vanieken-Ryals v. OPM, a 2007 Federal Court of Appeals case, points out the error of OPM’s ways in Federal Disability Retirement cases, where insistence upon “objective” medical evidence continues to dominate, despite the lack of such requirement to the contrary.  Such an issue is especially relevant, of course, in cases where psychiatric medical conditions prevail, and when OPM insists upon the lack of such “objective” medical evidence where none can be obtained, it leads to Federal and Postal employees to react desperately in a preemptively unreasonable frenzy of actions.

Not knowing the law is one thing; knowing, but deliberately ignoring it, is quite another.  But the price Federal and Postal employees pay for when a bureaucracy engages in practices which clearly defy the clear mandate of legal requirement, results in preemptive actions which ultimately lead to another day in Court, to argue that which one thought was previously already established.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Disability Retirement Layer: Cartoons & Carnivals

In exclusively representing Federal employees and Postal workers to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the stories that are shared, the frustrations felt, and the tales left untold, collectively boggles the fragile mind.

Yes, by now, perhaps it is a truism that nothing under the sun can further be revealed that is of a surprising nature; but it is often just the sheer cumulative absurdity which, in their aggregate compendium of events, could only have occurred in cartoons and carnivals.  By contrast, there is the seriousness of the medical condition itself.

That is always the starting point, and the essence of why Federal and Postal workers contact an attorney who handles OPM Disability Retirements, based upon whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  Eligibility rules must first be met; then, the issue of entitlement must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence.

The comical relief and the sense of a carnival atmosphere, where cartoonish characters collide with the sobering reality of one’s medical condition and the potential end to one’s career in the Federal sector, arises inevitably through the actions of the agency, and their complete lack of empathy or concern.

Yes, agencies must continue to remain efficient; and yes, they must continue in their mission and course of work; but in the end, all we have left is family, community, values and vestiges of human interaction, and the littered graveyards of silent skeletons where marked graves and unmarked cemeteries speak not of efficiency, meanness and uncaring residues, but only where fresh flowers and wreathes of caring surround the frozen ground of time; yes, only in cartoons and at carnivals do people act with the absurdity of loss of humanity.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Medical Retirement: The Pigsty

The term implies a negative connotation; of a messy, untidy area,  as well as denoting an unsanitary condition; but beyond the association, an undeserved reputation that the inhabitant lives by choice in such a state of disarray and uncleanliness.  But pigs by nature do not choose to live where feces and food mix; rather, the forced confinement within minimized living quarters results in the undeserved reputation.

That is often how Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers feel when they are in the middle of 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 — like being in the midst of a pigsty.

Tidiness is not the normative process; stuff happens, and the euphemism of human waste seems to hit a proverbial fan.  The medical condition itself seems to force the unpleasantness; agencies respond by placing greater and more onerous demands and constraints upon the Federal or Postal employee; and the admixture of that which should be left separately, becomes commingled and the professionalism once prided upon is swept out the door.

Suddenly, the Federal or Postal employee is not considered the “rising star”, and performance reviews of superlative heights are no longer a given; Supervisors and coworkers walk by with cold shoulders, and empathy and understanding are human emotions forgotten and shunned.  All throughout, the Federal or Postal employee must deal with the medical condition itself, and then some.

Filing for Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefits is always a stressful time, and one where an ordered and orderly state of affairs is temporarily suspended.  But when once the sought-after condition is achieved, and the prioritized focus upon attending to one’s medical conditions can be attained, time allows for the past to fade away into a desultory dream of distant calling, where the pigsty of past lives is replaced with a pastured plateau of new beginnings.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Dissipated Dream, Delayed

It is an enjoyment and pleasure of the highest order, and yet costs nothing; if remembered, the visual residue can be stored in the safety deposit boxes of one’s memory, “as if” it actually occurred; and retrieving the memories can be as vividly regurgitated in the virtual reality of its existence, as that of having actually been there.

Dreams, if remembered, can be as real as memories of experienced events.  No, they cannot be videotaped (at least, not yet); and the money exchanged, the actions engaged or the people we meet in the fantasy realm of our self-contained consciousness, do not translate well in the harsh reality of everyday life.  And then we open our eyes, and unless we deliberately try and remember the images so vividly splashing upon the walls of our eyelids just before the flutter of opening them, they dissipate into the ethereal universe of some mysterious universal consciousness.  But what of the other sense of a dream — that of youth’s future endeavor and plans of greatness?  Of the many places desirous of visiting, the encounter with a kindred spirit yet to be fulfilled, and the pleasures of momentary categories of accomplishments?

Medical conditions have a tendency to dissipate such dreams, to scatter them across the cold and harsh tundra of reality, and to stamp them into the frozen plains of time.  But a dissipated dream need not be destroyed; it may merely be delayed.  Federal Disability Retirement can allow for that eventuality.  What others deem to defecate, one need not accept as the final word.  No, it is not the monetary payment of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity which will burst forth with riches of dreams delayed; rather, it is the opportunity to attend to one’s medical conditions, such that the medical conditions may be somewhat resolved, the nightmare put behind, and linear progression of life’s plans restarted.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker, filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, should merely be a bump on the road.  While some Federal and Postal employees may consider the entire bureaucratic process of filing with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to be akin to a nightmare of sorts, it is the path out of one’s rut of dreamless nights.

Dare to dream; never believe that the dream dreamed is a dissipated dream; rather, dreams of one’s subconscious, just as the childhood one of unrealistic plans for the future, should merely be a delayed embracing of that which is larger than the smallness of our fears.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire