Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Ends and beginnings

It is the linear manner in which we perceive the world; of straight lines as opposed to circular figures; of two points or perhaps three, then again lines of intersection and connecting the dots, instead of arcs that waver and detour beyond the directional certainty of point A to Point B and beyond.  “Ends” we recognize by the symphony that crescendos and the credits that scroll down and display the accomplishments unto the “Assistant to the Assistant director of Operational Assistants”; or, at least when the black screen declares, “The End”.

And of beginnings?  Other than the first breath taken, the consummation of love’s forlorn initial encounters and the memories of childhoods harkening back to hazy summer evenings that may be real or mixed with what was told about you when you were young; perhaps beginnings can never be ascertained with as much certainty as the endings that suddenly come upon us.

We tend to bifurcate our lives with straight and intersecting lines; “Here is when X happened”; “Over there, that is when Y began.”

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who began their careers with the hopes and dreams of all who enter the workforce, full of vigor and enthusiasm, coopted by the “mission of the agency” or the team spirit reinforced by the accolades given in performance reviews, bonuses granted and promotions within sight of tomorrow – the slow deterioration of a medical condition can come to one’s realization as a devastating recognition that an “end” is coming, without the concomitant accompaniment of the clear “beginning” to follow.

Where does something “end”, and something else “begin”?

Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management because the Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position is indeed an “end” of sorts, but it must also be viewed as an important “beginning”.

It is the beginning of attending to the priorities of life; of starting to focus upon one’s health and well-being; of recognizing that others at the Federal agency or the Postal service have seen the “end” of your career.

Yet, perspectives matter, and how we view things do make a difference, and it is the “beginnings” that come after the “end” that matters.  For, the “Assistant to the Assistant director of Operational Assistants” hopefully did not end his or her career with that final credit noted at the end of that B-rated movie; hopefully, he became the director of Operational Assistants, or perhaps the director himself or herself.


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


Federal Disability Retirement Law: The voice of constructive criticism

It is rare for the individual to accept constructive criticism; rarer still, to invite and welcome it in any form, whether destructive, constructive or otherwise characterized as “positive”, “negative” or “neutral”.  The fact is that few of us accept any form of it at all, and quickly respond with the rebuttal:  “It’s not constructive”.  But why does it need to be?

Such a reaction assumes an inherent distinction that merely and preemptively places an obstacle to further engagement.  It may well be that, in the end, one can conclude as to the resultant characterization initially presumed, and perhaps even to attribute bad faith, unhelpful motivations and intended cuts.  But all of that should come at the end of the deliberative process, and not as the beginning firewall to prevent further discussion and consideration.

For some reason, the evolution of man has embraced the societal need to spend an exorbitant amount of time defending justifying, counterpunching and placing linguistic walls of protective measures in order to preserve the superficial appearances that we all deny we revere.  The irony of Western Philosophy is that, despite questions repetitively and exhaustively presented – with never any conclusive and satisfactory answers ever provided (like children and their eyes bulging with curiosity in a toy store) – the query never ends and the answers are forever avoided.

This age of modernity, however, has a new wrinkle:  as traditional philosophy has been relegated to insignificance and irrelevance by reducing it as a matter of language games and confusion in our thought-processes, so now the “new” approach is to avoid any substantive questions (and therefore any curiosity to have the answers) and, instead, to preserve and protect our superficial lives and appearances.

The beginning of Western Philosophy warned of this – from Parmenides and Heraclitus, and with the entrance of that irritant vagabond Socrates as related to us through the Platonic Dialogues – “appearances” were to be queried and investigated in order to get to the foundation of Being.  Now, we avoid even the appearance of superficiality in order to protect how shallow we are, and we do this by preemptively and viciously attacking the mere question in order to avoid any criticism at all.  This can obviously have dangerous consequences.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who want to consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the key to submitting a “winning” Federal Disability Retirement application is in being open to self-criticism, whether constructive, destructive or otherwise neutral.

Vigilance in life is always the key, and refining, streamlining and formulating an effective Federal Disability Retirement application should go through a rigorous “vetting” process, such that the questions of Socrates through his dialectical methodology of getting to the “truth” should never be subverted.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The intransigent excuse

Much of life is spent in retrospectively justifying actions; the remainder of the time, of making excuses where we can, and when we need to (which is often).  The great thing about excuses is that the reserve of them can never be depleted; like the never-exhaustive stars in the universe, we can always discover, make up, or otherwise concoct another.  Thus, to counter that a person has “run out of excuses” is to defy reality; we can always, if the need requires, go back to one that we long ago abandoned, and stick to it.

It is that intransigent excuse that tends to defy – the one that, though unreasonable by most accounts, nevertheless provides a shield of protection for the one who clings to it.  For, the one who tightly embraces an intransigent excuse never, of course, considers it as such; it is, instead, the fault that rests upon the rest of the world in a conspiracy of illogical motives that attempts to change course and offer alternatives as to facts, opinions or best avenues for future courses of action.

As to the one clinging to such excuses, it is never characterized as such.  No, instead it is an explanation in light of reasonable circumstances; a logical conclusion based upon facts as interpreted; and, even if the rest of the universe fails to comprehend the logic of the stated foundation, the intransigent excuse is the last bastion of the proverbial wall that may force us to do, acknowledge and admit to that which we vehemently resist.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are in need of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the primary concern is to get beyond an intransigent excuse.  While there are very few circumstances in which filing for Federal Disability Retirement is “too late” (other than the obvious one, of course, of complying with the Statue of Limitations of filing within 1 year of being separated from Federal Service), the key is to file before it becomes an emergency.

As OPM has a large backlog of cases and they are taking longer and longer to review, evaluate and make decisions on a case – leaving aside the problem of even first having them to assign a case to a reviewer/ administrative specialist – there must needs be some forward planning and foresight of future-oriented perspectives, and it is often the intransigent excuse which defies, builds a wall against, and creates seemingly insurmountable obstacles in moving forward.

Life is full of obstacles, and the ones we build ourselves are often the most difficult to overcome.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a big decision to make; thought, preparation and formulation of a plan is often necessary.  Just do not allow for the intransigent excuse to be the wall that prevents the reasonable approach to prevail.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: Character

If a person points to another and states, “He is really a character”, is it different from positing:  “He really has character”?  Can both statements mean the same, or is the subtle difference there to denote?  The former is customarily stated in defining a person as somewhat of an oddball, or perhaps eccentric to a degree that places him outside of the conventional norms of acceptable conduct.  The latter, on the other hand, could also mean that – the possession of it modified by the adverb describes one with a plenitude of extraordinary traits.  Or, it could connote the more classical meaning:  A worthy person of honor, dignity, courage, moral foundation, etc.

That is, in the end, what most of us consider to be the pinnacle and apex of that very noun, isn’t it?  Possessing it is that which makes of us; displaying it, what demands respect and attention; and abiding in it despite trials that test to compromise, what we hope and expect of ourselves.  Indeed, character is both tested and surfaces especially in those times of tumult and tribulation; it is the mettle challenged at the depth of the soul of being.  Yet, in this age of modernity where materialism prevails, power seems to overarch all else, and the traditional reference to one’s “character” no longer means much more than a rumble in one’s stomach as evidence of hunger or impoverishment, it is clear that neither form of the meaning evinces much curiosity.

Materialism is dominant; those in power dominate; and the once-vaunted “indomitable spirit” carried forth as a burden of possessing character no longer has much substantive weight.  Where it does reveal and manifest itself, however, is in the very lack thereof.  So long as things are going relatively smoothly; while the good fortune lasts; or, perhaps during those times when monotony merely puts one into a slumber of sorts, and actions and deliberations through life’s daily routine are placed on an unthinking mode of automatic pilot, the revelation or concealment of character matters not.

But take that onerous instance – as, when a medical condition begins to impact one’s life, and for Federal and Postal employees, compels one to consider 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; does character count?  One’s own and reliance upon another’s; both come to the fore and require an evaluation that will test the mettle of the substantive foundation.

For the Federal or Postal employee who begins to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application – tested to endure the administrative process and the onerous test of the entire bureaucratic procedure.  For those coworkers, family members and other encountering Federal or Postal employees, including Supervisors, Managers and Human Resource Personnel – of how they respond and what they do to make the process smooth and seamless.  In the end, character comes to the fore, and reveals the content of who we truly are.


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