Medical Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The content

It is ultimately the content that matters, especially in a technical, administrative procedure where tone and context become secondary.  After all, we are addressing a “medical” issue – a cold, clinical subject when it comes to filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

What should be included?  How far back?  What is meant by the “essential” or “core” elements of a job?  Does the capacity and ability to arrive at work for the duration of completing assignments in and of itself constitute an “essential” element of the job?  What if the job can be performed, but one simply cannot drive to the job?  Must I address failed efforts by the agency to “accommodate” me, and does the term “accommodation” have a narrower legal meaning than the way it is loosely used by my agency?

These and multiple other questions go to the heart – the content – of the issues presented when preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Content is all important, and the audience to whom the Federal Disability Retirement application is intended is relevant to keep in mind.  If you are standing in line at a grocery store, or at a Post Office, and someone remarks to you, “You are obviously in pain.  Go ahead in front of me” – such kindness and consideration may prompt you to explain, in somewhat abbreviated form, the content of what your medical condition is.  However, if that same person who showed such consideration turned out to be a close family member, who either already knows about your condition or is otherwise intimately familiar with the circumstances and the history of your medical condition, your response may be somewhat different.

How much history of the medical condition needs to be related to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; what medical records need to be attached and accompany the narrative report that creates the “bridge” and “nexus” between the medical condition and the essential elements of the job duties – these all fall under the general aegis of “content”, and must be carefully considered in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Disability Retirement: The complex simplified

Ultimately, that is the reason why we hire experts in a particular field.  Life has advanced with such complexity that everything has become particularized into specialized fields where focus upon a subject becomes narrower and narrower.

The days of former times when the neighborhood doctor came and made house visits with his black leather bag are no longer existent; instead, we go to the doctor’s office, and only then to be referred to countless and whatever other specialists for further consultation and diagnosis.  The “general practitioner” is merely the gatekeeper; once inside the gate, there are multiple other doorways that must be approached, entered, and traveled through a maze of further developments of referrals until the “right one” is finally connected to.

Law has become the same as medicine; no longer can one simply hang up one’s shingle and “practice” law in every generality; rather, the legal field has become such a conundrum of complexity that the best approach is to first understand what legal issue needs to be addressed, then to locate a lawyer who specializes in that particular field of law.  From the lawyer’s perspective, it is a job of taking the complex and simplifying it such that the layman can comprehend the issues at hand, the approach that will be taken, and the resolution offered.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the issue is encompassed by the developing need to think about the future and to adjust and adapt to whatever benefits are offered for the Federal or Postal employee in such circumstances.

The benefit of “Federal Disability Retirement” is not often even known by Federal or Postal employees to exist.  However, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is certainly an option to be considered.  It is, however, a complex administrative process where adequate and sufficient medical documentation must be gathered, where certain key elements and points of law must be addressed, and if it is not carefully formulated, can have dire legal consequences without careful review and processing.

As with so many things in life, having a legal representative advocate for your case becomes a necessity where the complex is simplified, but where simplification does not mean that it is simple –merely that it is indeed complex but needs to be streamlined so that it is cogent, comprehensible and coherent in its presentation, substance and submission.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Lawyer Representation for Federal Disability Retirement Claims: The image we hold

What picture do we carry?  No, not in one’s pocket or wallet, but in the eye of one’s mind.  Is it one that has been frozen in time; an imprint from a bygone era, a specific day in one’s past where childhood memories once floated upon a cloud of dreams and wishes?  Or, is it of more recent vintage – wrapped in layers of cynicism and denied opportunities, huddled in a corner where bitterness, wrongs and outrages of blames and byproducts of what others have “done” have emasculated and left that image we hold with disdain and dank disgust?

Where we are in life, at what stage we find ourselves; often, how we act and engage the world depends upon the image we hold of ourselves.  It is, after all, the one person whom we have no idea about.

Oh, yes, we try and fool ourselves by claiming to know ourselves better than any other, and we do this because we are the only ones who have access to that “inner” soul that speaks soliloquys and bitter asides when we believe no one else is listening.  But that is merely a subjective understanding of a subject that lives in the world of pure subjectivity; it is not, after all, an “objective” perspective and assessment of who we are.  For that, we must turn a dispassionate eye in reverse-form upon the image we hold of ourselves.

In the end, are we anything more than the aggregate of a language we have learned, and the very usage of the language we have acquired, the sense-impressions we have encountered and the image we hold – is it any more or less than what others have of ourselves?

That is why, in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it is important to have a greater sense of who we are when we write that “Statement of Disability” on SF 3112A.  For, SF 3112A requests certain and specific information about one’s self, the nexus between one’s medical condition and the impact upon one’s positional capabilities and essential elements of one’s job.

But the narrative we write should have a certain sense of objectivity about it, precisely because it is going to be some “other” person who will be reading it, assessing it and evaluating the sincerity and persuasive impact of the delineated discourse.

From that perspective, the image we hold of ourselves can be an impediment, precisely because it may not be an objective viewpoint, but one wrapped in the perspective of pain, turmoil, anger and despair, which is understandable, taking the medical condition into account.  Perhaps, an advocate who has a more “objective” perspective – like a lawyer who is well versed in Federal Disability Retirement law — might be of some assistance in the process.  Just a thought.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The negative of a photograph

In this digital age, the disappearance of the negative in photography is quite appropriate; for, this is an age that has attempted to expunge everything negative, both in form and in substance.  That thin strip of plastic film that was always retained, and carefully coupled with the “positive” prints, was preserved with the idea that the more valued sets of prints may become lost, distributed or otherwise disseminated, and in that event, so long as the negative of the original was retained, more could be printed out.

Just before the digital age, there were “do-it-yourself” machines – monstrosities that received the film, processed them and spit out two-prints each; or is that just the faulty memory of this writer? The double-prints were meant to allow for giving of one and keeping the other, just in case grandma or grandpa wanted one of those cute pictures where everyone simultaneous said the universal word: “Cheese!”

Yet, the concept of the negative still retains some fascination, despite its obsolescence in the modernity of the digital age; for, it is the reverse order of reality, where the lightness of images retains the darkness of reflection, and vice versa, because of the chemical sensitivity in processing the film.

And who among us recalls the ghoulish search when we actually did want to get another print made – of searching through various negatives, seeing the hollow images of figures staring back, trying to discern whether multiple negatives that appeared similar but not quite the same could be the one, by matching the angle of the face, the tilt of the head, or some mysterious figure in the background not shown in the original?

Have we all had that experience – where there is something that appears in the negative but not in the print, and attribute it to the ghostly mysteries that somehow and by mistake captured the supernatural world otherwise banished from this day and age?

The romantic world of the unknown has now vanished, along with the negative of a photograph; now, we are left with the virtual reality of a mundane universe, with nothing left for our imaginations.  For, the negative of a photograph is the mystery itself that always spurred us onward and upward, trying always to achieve the next level of accomplishment.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers 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 Federal or Postal positional duties, the concept of the negative of a photograph should be quite familiar; for, once upon a time, that image beheld on that strip of plastic was the “real” you, preserved and retained for posterity as the valuable essence of a being otherwise forgotten.

Federal agencies and Postal facilities only care about the print that stays forever in the same pose and manner, unchangeable and forever identical.  The mere fact that a medical condition has “changed” a Federal or Postal employee is somehow rejected by the Federal agency and U.S. Postal Service, and that is why filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management becomes so important.

For, just like the negative of a photograph, it is the medical condition in its negative aspects that always seems to be the sole focus of the Federal or Postal facility in determining the worth of an individual.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire