Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The Game of Calumny

If not one’s reputation, what is the remaining value?  If truth is not a goal, then what fills the void?  Yes, from ashes to ashes, and back to dust, and the elements which make up man are constituted by nothing unique beyond the environment from which he originates, and to which he returns; but the linguistic act of reductionism fails to achieve a full embrace, and just like the defensive football player who hesitates for a moment and sees the blur of the ball carrier speed past, so the aftertaste of materialistic reductionism is somehow unsatisfying.

For, to say that X is “nothing more” than an aggregate of atoms is to characterize a masterpiece as a mere collection of colors, and that is precisely Roger Scruton’s point, isn’t it?  Then, there is the game of calumny, of the capacity to try and strip another through slander and innuendo.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, that game by other Federal and Postal employees becomes a daily onslaught.

Somehow, it is not enough that one must suffer from the gods of fate and contend with deteriorating health.  Instead, one must further deal with the sudden isolation into disfavor, like lepers of yore shipped to colonies in deserted islands beyond the reach of virulent populations scared of their own shadows.  Slavery was outlawed decades ago, but the treatment of workers barely has changed.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must 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, the game of calumny by one’s “fellow” workers is merely another indicator that we are not merely a collected mass of elements to be spat upon, and that is a positive side to man’s inhumanity; but, then, finding out the truth about one’s fellow man is always better than to live in ignorance thinking that one’s Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service was going to be supportive through thick and thin.

The time of “thin” has arrived, and it is in the thick of things that one must now fight for one’s rights.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Levels of Argumentation in OPM Disability Retirement

In a perfect universe, logic should prevail and the superior argument would be identified, recognized and accepted.  In a less-than-perfect universe (the state in which we unfortunately find ourselves), pragmatic factors involving power, authority, competency and non-substantive, peripheral issues must always be considered, and incorporated accordingly.  In the “unofficial rules” of argumentative methodology, three elements must be present:  (A) The ability and capacity to recognize a superior argument, (B) the willingness to concede one’s own inferiority of the proffer, and (C) acceptance of one in replacement of the other, which is to admit and submit.

In modernity, however, loudness and persistence, even without a basis in systematic logic, will often prevail, and one need not accede to a different position so long as ownership of the microphone or loudspeaker is never contested.  Which brings us to the pragmatic realities of the Federal Disability Retirement application, and the denials issued by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  First, it is important to recognize that all denials of Federal Disability Retirement applications by OPM “sound like” they are based upon “the law”.  They are meant to appear that way.  But are they?  If read too carefully, the internal inconsistencies, the lack of logic, and the repetitive nature of declarative conclusions without any supporting methodological argumentation will be quite evident.

How should one approach and rebut such a decision?  Does each and every point brought out by the “administrative specialist” need to be addressed, or just the “main points“?  Should the rebuttal arguments form the basis of the step-following the Reconsideration Stage of the process of attempting to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits — the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board?  Are there any repercussions for not addressing each of the “points” delineated in a denial by OPM?

These, and many other questions, should be addressed by a Federal lawyer who is experienced in handling OPM Medical Retirement applications through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  For, as some Federal or Postal employees attempt to begin the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits without the aid, guidance, counsel and assistance of an OPM Disability attorney, when a denial of the Initial Stage is received from OPM, more extensive analysis and “corrective” efforts may be required.

And those three elements of argumentative methodologies discussed herein, are they relevant to the process?  Perhaps.  But OPM is a powerful and large bureaucracy which holds the future security of Federal and Postal employees in their hands, and a denial by OPM must be taken seriously, both in substantive form and qualitative content.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Physical and Mental Conditions in Federal OPM Disability Retirement Claims: Ahead of the Proverbial Curve

Trends are often characterized by the actions of a few.  Whether in cultural expectancies via movie moguls, fashion designers, technology innovators and convention-busters, the known so-called leaders who stay ahead of the proverbial “curve” which maintains the continuum of linear stability in a given society, often dictate the direction of an otherwise directionless future.

The ivory tower of academia is another such bastion of proclivities where, if observed carefully, can infer a discernment for future waves to come. The views of sociologists, psychologists, philosophers and economists (to name just a few “ists” within the self-vaunted world of esoteric penumbras; note, however, how the “philosopher” is not termed the “philosophist” — why is that? Perhaps because there was a desired disassociation with sophistry?) preview a trend of forthcoming conundrums impacting a society.

In the pragmatic world in which most of the rest of society inhabits, however, the dualism pronounced (and in many sectors of philosophy, denounced) concerning the bifurcated universe of the cognitive as opposed to the physical, continues to be debated. Dennett, consciousness, Nagel, Scruton, and the continuing debate over whether human consciousness can be reduced through the scientific language-game of mere biological processes, rages on in the ivory towers of conceptual constructs.

In the real world, this debate is reducible to the pragmatic question of whether psychiatric conditions are “as acceptable” as physical manifestations of traumatic conditions. For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the question of whether it is “more difficult” to win a Federal Medical Retirement claim from OPM is one which overwhelmingly can be answered in a positive, pro-worker manner: today, fortunately, there is little distinction to be made between psychiatric health problems and physical health problems.

Major Depression, Anxiety, panic attacks, Bipolar Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorders, suicidal ideations, nervous breakdowns, etc. — all are viable bases upon which to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, on a par with physical conditions of chronic pain, cervical and lumbar dysfunctions, shoulder impingement syndrome, Crohn’s Disease, etc.  Descartes’ dualism cannot be found in the world of OPM and in the filing for a Federal Medical claim of disability.

The proverbial curve of societal trends is often determined by those at “the top”; but in the case of acceptance of psychiatric conditions in comparative analysis to physical conditions in the filing for Federal Disability benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the trend of acceptance on a par for both was established long ago, probably as a result of the reality of either and both conditions, and the realization by the bureaucracy that however you term the condition, the importance of a Medical Disability Retirement claim finds its essence on the impact of one’s ability or inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Depressed Ground

Depressed ground in Guatemala City: This sinkhole was estimated to be 60 feet wide and 300 feet deep

A huge sinkhole in Guatemala City: This one was estimated to be 60 feet wide and 300 feet deep

The term itself immediately implies the clinical concept of a psychiatric condition; but, of course, it can also mean that there is a geological sinkhole, of a stretch of land, small or large, sunken in comparison to the surrounding area.  A rabbit’s nest can create a depression; excessive rain can loosen the soil and depress the land; and depression can overtake the healthiest among us, sending us down a course which envelopes the emotions, mind and soul with loss of energy, overwhelming sadness, and lethargy of life so overpowering that physical manifestations, profound and intractable fatigue, and an unwavering sense of hopelessness and helplessness pervades.

Sometimes, the two distinct but complementary concepts can intersect: the depressed grounds only adds to one’s depression. The former usage, of course, only metaphorically speaks to the physical characteristic of description; the depression of the ground is not literally a physical sinking of the land, but implies a dilapidation of the neighborhood; while the latter refers to the mental state of an individual exacerbated by the solitary degradation of the environment.

It is when the two distinct conceptual constructs intersect and are combined, that the impact upon the Federal or Postal worker may be felt.  For it is precisely the vicious cycle of “feeding upon itself” that the Federal or Postal Worker experiences — of the depression in a clinical sense, combined with the depressed grounds of one’s workplace — when change of scenery may become necessary in order to travel towards the path of restorative health.

Woman listening to her psychologist

Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion or income: Here a young woman listens to her psychologist

Federal Disability Retirement benefits, filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is available for all Federal and Postal employees who are under FERS or CSRS, when the intersection of a medical condition and one’s inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, comes to the fore. It is there to be eligible for all Federal and Postal employees, when the depression (in the clinical sense) impacts the depressed grounds (in the sense of the work environment).

Thus, when the joy of life is depleted, and the hallowed grounds of sunlit mornings and the cool breeze of dusk transforms into a universe of regret and remorse, Federal Disability Retirement benefits for the Federal and Postal employee should be a serious consideration; as it may become necessary to leave the depressed grounds of yore.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Stress, Anxiety, Depression…

Stress is often the noun which triggers.  As the originating causation, it is often considered the evil cousin who brings about other ailments. It is a state of mental or emotional strain which is encountered under extraordinary circumstances, often hostile in nature, and involving a lack of calm or quietude.

Workplace stress is a reality of the modern technological age; hostile work environments have been identified as causative agents of stress; and demands for overburdened, repetitive work habits contribute exponentially.

Attempts to reduce workplace stress are always welcomed but often ineffective

Attempts to reduce workplace stress are always welcomed but often ineffective

While the goal for a “stress-free environment” is generally unattainable and a mythological state existing only in one’s imagination, it is thought from a medical perspective that engaging in stress-reducing activities, whether incrementally throughout the day, or during one’s leisure time, remains an important facet of healthy living.

The noun which triggers — stress — is that which, if left unchecked, can result in the debilitating effects of an explosion of psychiatric (and physical) medical conditions, including (but not limited to) anxiety, depression, suicidal ideations, homicidal thoughts, intrusive nightmares, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, gastric and abdominal dysfunctions, chronic and profound fatigue, general malaise, chronic pain, debilitating migraine headaches, and a host of other medical conditions.

At some point, when the seriousness of a medical condition brought about by stress cannot be relieved or reduced through pragmatic means of altering key components which cause the stress, then complete removal from the stressful environment must be considered.

Generalized anxiety disorders appear in physical and psychological ways. Headaches are a possible physical symptom. So are muscle aches, sweating, and hot flashes.

Federal Disability Retirement, available for all Federal and Postal employees who have the minimum number of years of service, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, and filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, must always be considered when one’s medical condition — whether triggered by stress or some other causative agent — begins to impact and prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position.

Sometimes, when the visiting cousin who carelessly and thoughtlessly spreads germs and destructive diseases comes for a short visit, subtle hints as to the unwelcome nature of the visit may simply fail to move.  In such cases, it is time to move out, leaving behind the unwanted cousin to drown in the misery of his own making.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (often referred to by its acronym, PTSD), is often associated with war-time experiences and specific traumatic incidents.  Often accompanied by other psychiatric conditions (e.g., Major Depression, anxiety, panic attacks), it can be characterized by symptoms of nonrestorative sleep resulting from intrusive thoughts, nightmares, inability to focus and be attentive because of hypervigilance, and multiple other similar correlative symptoms.  

In filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, the Office of Personnel Management will often make the spurious and irrelevant argument that the applicant failed to pinpoint a “specific incident” which “triggered” the PTSD.  However, most psychiatric medical reports and narratives which I have reviewed do not necessarily require such a triggering incident.  Indeed, it can often be as a result of a series of stressful events which came to a “boiling point” where the Federal or Postal worker could no longer tolerate the stresses of daily life beyond a certain flash point — and for each individual, that point of “no tolerance” is different and distinct, precisely because each individual is a unique being.  

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD as is commonly known, is a viable basis for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS — but as with all medical conditions, must be conveyed in a narrative which is understandable and linked to one’s inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for Federal & Postal Employees: How to Handle those “Second-Class” Medical Conditions

Attitudes toward various medical conditions change over time.  This has certainly been the case with psychiatric medical conditions:  Major Depression, Anxiety, panic attacks, Bipolar Disorder, Agoraphobia, PTSD, OCD, etc.  At one time in our society, the heavy stigma placed upon such medical conditions essentially made them unacceptable.  Over time, however, as greater numbers of such conditions came to the forefront, and greater success at treatment of such conditions became evident, the validity and acceptance of such conditions have resulted in other medical conditions taking their place. 

Thus, certain conditions such as Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic Pain, Chemical Sensitivity cases, etc., have become the psychiatric conditions of a prior age.  Perhaps it is because the medical profession treats such conditions as afterthoughts — where, through a process of elimination of saying that the medical condition is not X, Y or Z, therefore it is A. 

Whatever the reasons, in a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, a Federal or Postal employee who is applying for such benefits who is suffering from any of the Second-Class medical conditions must formulate and compile his or her case in a thoughtful, deliberate and forceful manner.  Such an application must include adequate medical support; a clear and concise bridge between the symptomatologies experienced and the type of job which one must perform; and legal arguments which support the basis for an approval.  To some extent, this approach is no different than with any other medical condition; it is merely a reminder that one must cross all “T’s” and dot all “I’s” with that much more care.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


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