OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: Social Justice

Concurrent litigation entanglements occur often enough; if one has the capacity and ability to compartmentalize life, such multi-adversarial offensives can be effectively coordinated.  At the same time, however, it is important to recognize the folly of spreading oneself too thin; history confirms the defeats suffered at the principle of too much, too soon, as in Germany’s incursion on the Eastern Front while taking on North Africa and the entrance of the United States into a reluctant war.

Strategies of logistical considerations, as well as pragmatic considerations of finances, must always be a factor; thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who face a future with an ongoing medical condition which prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, consideration should be given to concurrent filings.

If an injury or medical condition is “work-related“, there is nothing wrong with filing for OWCP/DOL benefits, while at the same time filing for OPM Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  If both are approved, the Federal or Postal employee has the option of choosing to activate one, and allowing the other to be approved but remain passive.

Filing for Social Security Disability benefits, for those Federal and Postal employees under FERS, is a mandatory requirement during the process of filing for OPM Disability Retirement, anyway, so obviously the concurrent nature of filing is a necessary given.

When considering more far-reaching litigation entanglements, however, such as filing an EEOC Complaint potentially leading to a trial in the Federal Courts, pause should be given, if only because of the statistical disadvantage and high cost of such litigation.  A 2009 WSJ Article found that EEO discrimination lawsuits fared worst in statistical analysis in wins-to-losses ratio, and more recent studies do not provide greater encouragement.

While the recent focus upon the Pao v. Kleiner Perkins case would seem to highlight such statistical disadvantage, at the same time, one must recognize that the particular court case was a gender discrimination case filed and tried in state court, not in Federal Court, and each case reflects the complexity of the uniqueness of a particular set of facts.

The point here, however, is that while statistical analysis certainly can be skewed based upon a multiplicity of complex factors, for Federal and Postal employees who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, a pragmatic assessment should be made which asks, at a minimum, the following:  Do I want to be involved in a protracted litigation with my supervisors, agency and coworkers?  What is the purpose of my filing for Federal Disability Retirement?  Is the cost-to-benefit analysis sufficient in justifying litigation?  What is my definition of “Social Justice”?

For Federal and Postal employees, filing for, and obtaining, Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a practical exit from one compartmentalized stage of life; there is awaiting the next stage, of which Shakespeare reminds us all.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Once upon a Time

Once upon a time, there were great “causes” for which people fought to live for; evil empires which desired domination and for which the world went to war; liberties denied and suppressed, resulting in meaningful mass protests; and in the microcosm of individual lives, hope for a future and a better tomorrow, for which people married, had families, and strove for stability.

In today’s world, the opposite seems to prevail; the news is replete with trivial reasons to exit life; if one is turned down when a prom invitation is issued, it is a basis for an outrageous reaction; assertions of hurt feelings can be the foundation for court filings declaring a violation of rights; and when a society mandates the importance of rights over courteous behavior, the crumbling of foundational structures is not too far from a once-distant and dark future.

The famous and classic book by Harper Lee encapsulates the contrast of great and small troubles; of a microcosm reflecting larger issues worthy of consideration; but always, there was a sense that tomorrow would bring about a brighter future.  In it, Atticus speaks of the idea that one can never quite understand another unless one walks in his shoes, and looks at things from the other’s perspective.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, such a sense of the world is a well-known commodity.  All of a sudden, one becomes a pariah, when one may have been that shining star just a month before.

Federal Disability Retirement benefits are available for Federal and Postal Workers who seek a brighter tomorrow, and for whom greater causes still exist. That is why the benefit allows for the potential and possibility of the Federal Worker to seek other employment and a second vocation; for, Federal Disability Retirement benefits recognize the worth of the individual, and the fact that there is life after the devastating effects of a medical condition which may end one’s Federal or Postal career.

One may laugh at such notions, or have the cynical view that Federal Disability Retirement is merely one of those benefits for which the Federal government is giving another proverbial “handout”; but the fact is, like Atticus Finch in the classic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, there is always a brighter future for every generation, no matter the despair one may feel at any given moment in history.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: The Limitation of Imagination

The imposition of one’s cultural nurturing, combined with the genetic determinism of one’s heritage, makes us who we are, and presents to the world the essence of each unique personality.  One likes to think of the infinite and limitless potentiality of each individual, and indeed, when one views with awe the artwork of Michelangelo or reads the linguistic brilliance of Shakespeare, the inspiration which such paradigms of qualitative magnitude provides as examples of what can be, leaves one with breathless wonderment.

In reality, of course, most of us live lives of trepidation, confined to contained anxieties because of the self-defeating boundaries set by a lack of imaginative fortitude.  We hear of preachings to “think outside of the box”, but once the uttered declarative is embraced, we are actually following the conventional wisdom and merely repeating that which is inside the proverbial box, only to follow the dictates of conventionality to follow the masses to go outside, when everybody and his brother has already been doing that.

Federal and Postal Workers who are hit by a medical condition, such that it forces one to consider viable alternatives and reconsider one’s career and vocation for the future, often have no choice but to step outside of the conventional box. Federal Disability Retirement for all Federal and Postal Workers, whether under FERS or CSRS, and filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, allows for that option of the human imagination going beyond the cultural or genetic determinism of one’s heritage, precisely by providing a semblance of financial security such that one can, after attending to one’s medical conditions, consider future employment options.

Federal Disability Retirement thus satisfies the foundation of human need; and it is only when the basic human needs are met, that one can then have the leisure of going beyond the limits of our own imaginations.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: The Body Breaking

The age-old paradigm of assuming that one’s career will take a singular path from birth to death is based upon a pre-industrial viewpoint fostered and solidified in the post-industrial age.  It is folly, however, to think that the human body can survive and withstand the repetitive stresses, both physical and cognitive, of the daily impact inflicted by the modern workplace.

Whether in physically-demanding jobs in the Postal Service; unrestricted stresses in Supervisory roles; of administrative functions in Postal and non-Postal Federal jobs requiring multi-tasking at levels unheard of; or of sustained, unsustainable endurance of data gathering, evaluation and analysis in front of a computer screen; there has been little-to-no time for evolutionary progress of the human body or psyche to adapt to the level of physical, mental and emotional demands and requirements coming from the modern workplace.

That is why Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit in the Federal Sector which is one of the few well thought-out compensatory packages:  a recognition that a particular kind of job may well no longer be able to be performed because of a specific medical condition which prevents the Federal or Postal employee from continuing on in that career; paying a certain annuity amount; then, encouraging the (now former) Federal or Postal employee to remain productive by paying “back into the system” by becoming employed in some other capacity in the private sector.  Such a paradigm is a progressive one, and it recognizes the need for flexibility while understanding the reality of the human condition within the context of the workplace.

Filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is a benefit which is available for Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS or CSRS, and should be considered seriously by the modern workforce as a recognition that prior paradigms of single careers and vocations never took into consideration the complexity of the human body or psyche, nor the flashpoint of the body breaking.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Pre-planned Life

Planning is part of our culture; from birth, to plan for old age; from the first entrance into a career, to consider the options for retirement funding; from the days of schooling, to determine the course of one’s career; and multiple intermediate pre-planning considerations, often mundane in nature, such as what to eat for dinner, how many children to have, where to live, etc.  Whether animals plan for the day, and to what extent, may be debated; what cannot be disputed is the extent and complexity in comparison to the pre-planning engaged in by Man.

But life rarely follows along the neat and uninterrupted course of a plan determined days, months or years prior; instead, the hiccups of life are what make for interesting interludes of unexpected turns and twists.  The proverbial nest egg may not have developed as quickly; one’s expectations of career goals may not have blossomed; a child may have come unplanned; or a lost puppy may have appeared at one’s doorstep.

Medical conditions are somewhat like those interruptions of interludes; they may not be as pleasant as some other hiccups, but they are realities which people have to deal with.

For Federal and Postal employees who find themselves in a situation where medical conditions prevent them from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, it is important to undertake two preliminary steps:  An assessment of the medical condition and whether it is likely to resolve within a year or less; if not, to investigate and become informed about Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

One of the elements which must be shown is that one’s medical condition will last a minimum of 12 months.  This can normally be easily accomplished by a doctor who can provide a prognosis fairly early on in the process.

And perhaps a third step:  A recognition that lives rarely travel along a pre-planned route, no matter what you were taught to believe, and more than that, that the value of one’s life should not be reflected by veering into the unknown.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: The Time is Now

Waiting for the perfect storm is always the most persuasive grounds for procrastination; that time where coalescence of all necessary factors come together to provide the optimal moment to do something, but which never arrives; and so there is always one issue still to point to, where one can say, “X has not occurred, yet,” in order to delay the inevitable.

The problem with allowing for perfection to prevent action, is that in the meantime it allows for the deterioration of surrounding circumstances and conditions to occur, thereby further exacerbating the allowance for any such perfection to appear.  Grounds always exist to excuse an action; and when the seriousness of contemplating a change of vocation or stoppage of a career is at stake, such grounds are normally reasonable and real.  But at some point, especially when contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the Federal or Postal employee must simply acknowledge the fact that one’s present circumstance itself is less-than-a-perfect situation, and with that admission, to weigh the factors in deciding whether filing for FERS or CSRS Disability Retirement is the only viable option left.

In a fantasy-filled virtual world, it may well be that one can wait for the coming-together of perfect circumstances; in the “real” world, one must face and decide upon options which may not always present themselves as the best of all possible worlds.

The problem with today is that many of us live in the virtual world of videos; but there is a Kantian world of objectivity out there, and the coldness of that world is often reflected in the very agencies for which Federal and Postal Workers work.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Termination

Termination for the Federal or Postal employee should generate an administrative personnel action reflected in an SF 50 or PS Form 50, showing the date of the action, the nature of the issuance and the reason for the administrative process which is initiated and culminated.  Without it, technically no such action occurred.  However, there are cases where such a form has not been produced.

Further, such a personnel initiation is rarely issued in a vacuum; for a Federal employee to be terminated, there are certain procedural hurdles which are normally provided — an issuance first of a proposed termination, and the basis for such a personnel action, and one to which the addressee has a right to respond to within a specified period of days or weeks.  Thereafter, consideration must be given by the Agency in the response, whether verbal, written or both, given by the Federal or Postal employee.

Subsequently, when a termination is effectuated, an SF 50 or a PS Form 50 will be generated.  From that date of termination, the Federal or Postal employee has up to one year to file for disability benefits.

If such filing occurs after 31 days of the official termination date, then the application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits must be submitted directly to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in Boyers, PA.

If prior to 31 days, it can be processed through one’s former agency — although, such a filing should be carefully monitored, as one’s former agency may not process it with any urgency, and in the event that it is not forwarded to OPM within the other 11 months and some-odd days left, there will be a question as to whether it was timely filed at all.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire