Legal Representation on FERS/CSRS Disability Claims: What isn’t known

There is often that final question during a consultation — of “any other advice” that can be given, or whether something else was forgotten, or the generalization of “Anything else I should know?”  That is where the particulars of a case must be known, and the wide chasm that exists between “being a client” and merely receiving an initial overview of a person’s case.  For, what isn’t known is often the element that can harm or injure, and the question asked but left unanswered is the one that no one thought about but should have.

Lawyers like to enter an arena of legal battles well-prepared; all questions asked, normally already are presumptively answered, and no lawyer worthy of his opponent asks a question that he or she already doesn’t know the answer to, or at least has a fairly good idea about.  In a Federal Disability Retirement case, where there are multiple stages of an Administrative Process to tackle and prepare for, the First Key to success is to not submit that which will be harmful to one’s case.

As an attorney who represents Federal and Postal workers 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, the primary issue is obviously upon the medical report and records to be submitted; followed by the legal arguments to be presented and established, normally through an extensive Legal memorandum, which provides a kind of “road map” for the assigned OPM Specialist to review and (hopefully) become persuaded as to the validity, incontrovertible legal basis, and the substantive qualification of the Federal or Postal employee in meeting all of the legal criteria in becoming eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

For the Federal or Postal employee who attempts this complex Administrative Process without legal representation, the obstacles, pitfalls and potential hazards are many, and it is often what isn’t known that defeats a Federal Disability Retirement case.

Sure, there are cases where the presented facts, medical conditions and evidence constitute an undeniable, “slam-dunk” case, but those are few and far between, and we can all recognize such cases and a competent attorney would normally advise such individuals to go ahead and complete the Standard Forms, attach some relevant medical documentation and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with OPM.

Then, of course, there are cases on the far side of the spectrum that constitute a “weak” or otherwise invalid case, and those, too, are easily recognizable.  Most cases, however, fall in the middle, within the spectrum where one must affirmatively and by a preponderance of the evidence “prove” one’s eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  And for all such cases that fall in that “middle” area of the wide spectrum, what isn’t known is the lynchpin that must be identified and prepared for further assessment and formulation, whether by addressing it in a medical document or reinforcing it by legal argumentation.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Of garbage, debris and leftovers

The first is that which we outright discard for loss of value or unrepentant conclusion of worth; the second, what remains after destruction or usage; the last, what is set aside or left behind for multiple reasons, including everything referred to in the first and second, as well as a sense that a loss of appetite resulted in security of its existence without any judgment upon the core of its essence.  Because of our own linguistic laziness, we tend to just lump them all together; but distinctions in language-games matter, and what we do with each, how we treat them, and when we act upon them, requires more than recognizing the subtlety of differentiation we may overlook.

We associate garbage with the smells of rot and decay, and set aside vast areas for landfills to bury and cover over in the remoteness of society’s outskirts, where in lands of impoverishment and suffering starvation, the outcasts of society gather just to pick at the best of the worst.  Of debris, the wealthier people and nations as a whole simply discard and start over, again.  Those who can ill-afford to simply begin anew, will often try and salvage what debris can be reconstituted, and attempt to rebuild lives destroyed and damaged from hurricanes, wildfires and tornadoes, or other such disasters pummeled by nature’s fury or man’s carelessness.

And for leftovers, it is appropriate that it should be the last in the tripartite of linguistic examinations.  For, it applies to foods, to various aggregations of detritus, and to human beings themselves.  Of entities inorganic or inert, they can represent the extra screw mistakenly inserted with the package received, or the cheap trinket purchased in a foreign land but unable to fit into the bulging suitcase and discarded under the unmade bed in the hotel room left unpaid.  Of foods and other organic matter, it is the lesson taught by an overbearing parent, where loggerheads with stubborn children evoke stories once heard and continue as mythologies which – like unicorns and 3-ring circuses, never quite match the smell-test of reality – propagate like mice in the basement of dank and darkness, where the utterance, “When I was your age, what you leave as leftovers used to be the main course!” was but a boast echoing with hollow discourse upon ears deaf with such trite admonitions.  But the more serious manner of the meaning is reflected by the human cost of how we treat one another.  For, it is the “leftovers” of society which we forget about in the teaching lessons of wealth and abundance.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are shunned aside because of 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 conceptual construct of what is a “leftover” is a poignant reminder of what once was, of what can still be, and a hint of hope for a future without the harassment, intimidation and constant barrage of aggressive threats propounded without concern for consequences. For, it is the lesson of the leftover which we should all bear in mind.

As any reference in this day and age of a “Biblical” concept is immediately dismissed and ignored – (remember?  Of how treating the “least” is tantamount to re-crucifying at each turn?) – we must therefore embrace the lessons of our own childhoods.  For, in the end, the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker must make a decision of self-worth, and decide whether or not it is of any value to be treated as the vegetables untouched or the morsels undisturbed; or, perhaps, to “move on” and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, and become again the “main meal” as the lesson taught once recognized, in this universe where garbage, debris and leftovers are treated all in the same manner and upon the same plate of empty promises.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The heckler

We see them from afar, as lone voices suddenly erupting with disruptive force, often barely audible, sometimes unintelligible, but rarely unnoticed.  In some corners of the world, their acts can become dangerous; inciting violence, being put upon by the surrounding crowd; their license to interrupt has been somewhat muted by the responsive threat of retaliation, voiced in more recent days.  Most of us sit back and wonder who “those” people are — such fury and passion to deliberately interject without invitation or welcome, and with the full knowledge that the subsequent events will lead to being either escorted out in less than gentle ways, or set upon in more violent fashion.

Are there causes which still exist, worth fighting for, anymore?  Is it just boiled-over frustration against a political firestorm of ineptitude and economic vicissitudes which leaves the ordinary person powerless and voiceless?  Or, is that interruptor a paid badger from another camp, merely acting as an apparently passionate interlocutor, but nothing more in reality than an employed spoiler to reveal the disarray of discontent allegedly felt by the greater populace?

It is a tradition of American politics, certainly, to have the presence of at least one heckler rise from the quietude of the sheep’s fold; and like the wolf covered by the lamb’s clothing, with barely an eye peeping through to gauge the exact timing for the sudden uproar, the impertinence of a question posed, a harassing shout and a barrage of epithets and garbled sentences drowned out by a sea of groans from around; does it all really matter?

There have always been hecklers of time and badgers of dishonor; and like the crowd which follows blindly in sequence of movements, such temporary interruption of a planned event is but merely a nuisance of life tolerated.  How we treat the heckler is but a reflection of life itself. For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have a similar interruption of “the event” of life, such as a medical condition which cuts short the Federal or Postal career, and where a responsive interlude must follow — 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, is often the only choice left, and the best alternative to pursue.

Suddenly, it becomes the “quiet one” who must turn and heckle; for the Federal Disability Retirement applicant is often that part of the crowd which never made waves and rarely complained, but merely went about his or her business and accomplished quietly the “mission” of the agency or the daily repetition of work at the Postal Service.  Then, suddenly, the Federal or Postal worker was “singled out” as the “troublemaker” — all because of a medical condition which the Federal or Postal worker never asked for, never wanted, and rarely complained about.  But like the heckler who knows of the oncoming consequences, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is surely a cause worth fighting for — despite the rude exit which is certain to follow.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal OPM Disability Retirement: Parsing words and convoluted sentences

Choosing the appropriate word in linguistic expression is the corridor for comprehension; like weapons in the wrong hands and the capacity to push the proverbial button to initiate a first strike, the modern proponent of the elasticity of language has been accused of taking the parsing of it a bridge too far.  Of course, the general consensus is that lawyers “are to blame”; for, in engaging the fine-print and analysis of syntactic components to their exponential extremes, the convoluted manner in which meanings are twisted, coiled and folded into multiple layers of annotations, denotations and connotations, implies a loss of symbiosis between words, reality and the correspondence between the two.

Do words have any meaning at all, anymore?  Or, put in a different way and from a variegated perspective, must the word remain static, or be subjected to the interpretive emotional status at any given moment?  In a different context, such a question posed embraces an implied argument for the hermeneutical approaches that form the wide chasm in Constitutional theory — of “originalism” as opposed to the “living document” school of thought.

Whether one places significance upon the authorial intent, as opposed to the reader’s unconstrained translation of the contextual discourse, tells a lot about a person, his approach to life, and the manner of one’s capacity to evaluate and logically think.

In the end, it is perhaps the compromise between the two extremes which will hold sway with the ordinary person who happens to pick up a Shakespearean play and begins plodding through the double and triple entendres contained within, beneath, and every which way — that the greatest delineation of words and compilation of sentence structures must, however formulated and concisely aggregated, reflect a mastery of the word such that the here and now can be understood, but with a malleability open for playful interpretation.

This is an important point to understand — and for the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who is preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, every applicant must write up a Statement of Disability in response to Standard Form 3112A, and while the questions necessarily and somewhat delimit the context and content of the substantive form provided, it is the careful parsing of words and the need to refrain from a convoluted discourse which must guide the Federal or Postal employee into presenting a cohesive narrative, a logical and methodological argumentation of persuasive weight, and a clarity of deliberative purpose which sways the reader — the administrative “specialist” at OPM — into granting a Federal Disability Retirement application with a responsive (but merely a “template”) letter stating with unequivocal and unmistakable bluntness: “Approved“.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Medical Retirement: The loss of linguistic efficacy

If words are to have meaning, then the care in using them must be protected.  It is, of course, the conditional which must be accepted as true, in order for the contingency to be acted upon.  In a society where populism prevails, and in accepting a false sense of what “democracy” and “equality” have come to mean, the suffering consequences of a nation’s language becomes destroyed in subtle tones of disengagement.  Words lose their efficacy by multiple methods: overuse; misuse; refusal to allow for an expected impact to occur; or non-use by neglect and disregard.

Are there negative consequences for the loss of linguistic efficacy?  Or, perhaps such concerns are merely esoteric turmoils relegated to the intellectual temper tantrums reserved in ivory towers, and not of any significance or relevance to the greater population at large?  The English of Shakespeare is certainly not the mother tongue of modernity, and the volume of utterances fail to replace the lack of cogency in today’s discourse.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who intend to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the care in the selection and positing of words is important, despite the loss of such status and stature of their force and effect in general.  To prepare an effective Federal OPM Disability Retirement application — one which is both persuasive, as well as “true” — requires the careful crafting of a cogent compilation of multiple narratives, appealing to logic, factual coherence, and force of comprehension.  It must defy that which we see in today’s society — of the loss of linguistic efficacy.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal & Postal Employee Medical Separation: The abstract concept of “the other”

Existentialism could only have arisen from the ashes of nihilism; Western Philosophy, spanning the spectrum of metaphysics, epistemology, Rationalism, Empiricism and the tradition of questioning origins, essences and the compendium of who we are and what it all means, does not lead to the natural annihilation of intellectual curiosity.  But Existentialism, does.  Why?  Because Existentialism is an emotional reaction, rather than a rational rebuttal.

From the horrors of Nazi concentration camps and the denigration of human dignity reduced to mere abstractions, the philosophy of negation of which it is characterized, is more of a “sense” approach than a logical methodology of comprehension and understanding.  Thus, while traditional philosophy was always denoted by a curiosity towards abstraction, Existentialism was pulled back by a retractive revulsion because of the alienating impact of conceptualization.

That is why the most powerful explication of the philosophy of Existentialism is found in a novel by Camus (reference, The Stranger or The Plague), and not in reading Sartre’s meandering explanation (Being and Nothingness) of a confused attempt to systematize the emotive side of man.  Thus, in reading Camus, one gets the “sense” of abandonment, separation, distance and alienation of man from the community of others; whereas, in reading the traditional philosophical works — take any page from Plato, Aristotle or the Medievals — one enters an universe of order, systematized approach, and methodological rationalization emanating from curiosity and questioning.

The two approaches, however, are not unrelated; for, it is precisely because of the traditional training of discussing concepts in abstract form (and thereby separating the thought-process from human touch and interaction) that disregarding the humanity of a living being could be achieved.  In more provincial terms, it is easier to be cruel to a concept, than to one’s own child or spouse.  And, indeed, that is how we survive in advancing our purposive actions of harassment and sheer meanness; by objectifying “the other”, we can bifurcate our minds and categorize the subject into something less.

Supervisors do it to workers and underlings; no longer is the worker a fellow human being, but “that ## % !!”.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the lessons learned and gleaned from the reactive lens of Existentialism may be twofold:  First, don’t expect sympathy from the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service because you have a medical condition (that, unfortunately, is probably self-evident and a “given” already), and Second, do not expect cooperation or efficiency to suddenly prevail when engaging the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, merely because the need to obtain Federal OPM Disability Retirement should in and of itself touch a sense of empathy.

In neither case will a positive response be evoked.

Ultimately, the bureaucratic process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a surreal experience, and one in which the sense of alienation felt by Existentialism is encountered throughout.  That is because, in the end, the Federal or Postal applicant in a Federal Disability Retirement case is none other than a mere “other”, and no more than an abstraction to be gotten rid of, like the distraction you became when once you were no longer fully productive on the assembly line of life’s refuse of illegitimacy.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire