Medical Retirement from Federal Government Employment: Terms

Language is a malleable vehicle.  There have been times in the history of language, when the staid and stodginess period of loss of vibrancy became the rule, followed by epochs of radical vicissitudes, upheavals and counter-conventional revolutions in the medium of language games.  Whether this encapsulated slice of linguistic alteration, upending traditional forms of communication because of electronic media and the hype of language abbreviated by Twitter, Texting and Tablet Titillations, will last the short life of technological innovation and obsolescence, is yet to be determined.

For example, the time of Shakespeare’s linguistic explosion of experimentation and expansive usage became in retrospect a richness of entering into connotative language meanings from which we benefit to this day.  But steadiness, continuity and conditions of stability are also important in order to take the proverbial breather to accept, embrace and assimilate (a term widely used for contextual purposes in modernity applied to immigration reform, as well) the linguistic revolutions that become incommensurate with meaning, communication and conveyance of terms.

Terms are important, both in common usage and in technical application.  In the arena of Federal Disability Retirement Law, different words are splayed about, sometimes without regard to proper application, especially when the “law” often requires a greater attention to precision of meaning.  Some simple and common crossovers of linguistic confusion involve:  “medical retirement” and “disability retirement” – do they mean the same thing?

If reference to either term involves the submission for an early retirement to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, then the answer is “yes”, they do mean the same thing.  Federal Disability  Retirement is identical to “Federal medical retirement” if by such words the query is referring to filing for an early retirement based upon the Federal or Postal worker’s inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, and therefore the intention is to access an early annuity because of one’s early retirement based upon the medical condition, and submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Some other terms often confused or conflated:  “On-the-job injury” or “pre-existing condition”; these terms are often used in the language-arena of Worker’s Compensation issues, and rarely have any import – or applicability, at all – in the context of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  For, in a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the applicant is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it matters not whether or not one has been disabled “on the job” or away at a skiing accident; instead, what is important is the impact of the injury or disease upon one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position.  As for a “pre-existing” condition – that, too, is more likely appropriately defined in an OWCP context, and rarely in filing a Federal Disability Retirement application.

In any event, “terms” are meant to be used within a context-appropriate content of filings, and in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, it is important to clarify and conform to the applicable statutory mandates in defining and using the terms which are most appropriate and effective.

For, in the end, the explosion of language during the era of Shakespeare and the Elizabethan Age reverberates with critical linguistic richness to this day; yet, if we were to have a conversation with a bloke from that era, the terms employed would not only confuse us, but confound us with a profound sense of despairing lack of cogency despite our self-aggrandizing declarations of superiority and advancement in the modern parlance of greater self-esteem.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Pipe Dreams

The origin denotes an unsavory history of imperialistic exploitation and deserved degeneration of culturally unseen and unforetold consequences; of an encounter between foreign soils bridged by greed, necessity and inevitable destinies, but where the conqueror reaped more than what it sought.  In the opium dens which followed and the devastation of addictions ensuing, the phantoms derived from the processing of a plant which otherwise concealed the deadliness of its essence, beautiful in its floral toxicity amidst the sweet aroma that diffusely pervaded an unsuspecting population — dreams, indeed, of unreachable heights and great expectations otherwise squandered.

It is from that 19th century term — of the wafting scent of doom combined with the forgotten troubles of an industrial age, when repressive measures could be meted out by colonial strength, and insulting terms denigrating the humanity of an entire population could be thrown about by the lowliest of the low, and yet with superiority by race and ethnicity merely because one nation conquered and took advantage of the subservient nature of a quietude yet open to a coming storm.

In the end, who were the victors and what vestiges of the vanquished remained — only the untold stories of unmarked graves, whispering by twilight of plunder and portage of cultures; for, is it the country which invaded, or the one who imported the pipe dreams which subjugated the populace to an addictive essence?

In modernity, of course, the term itself has been shed of its subjugated past, and merely connotes an unrealistic expectation, a pursuance of a dream devoid of pragmatism, and a picture of flightiness attached to those who express such creative dimensions of unconstrained exuberance.  Children and the insane have them; and perhaps, still, those who partake of illicit moments of addiction and self-abuse.  But reality is always where we meet again, and the loss of time, efforts and futile exertion of wasted energy ends up back to the proverbial “square one”; what we squander in labor, we make up for in foolishness.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who must daily be challenged not only with the workplace hostility of repetitive annoyances, but further, work with a medical condition which progressively deteriorates and diminishes the Federal or Postal worker’s capacity and ability to perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal positional duties — pursuing a pipe dream that it will all just “go away”, or that tomorrow the medical condition will miraculously heal itself, or the day after the harassment will cease:  these are mere phantasms of a hope diminished by reality.

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 an acknowledgment that the Federal or Postal employee is no longer relying upon a pipe dream, and has taken a pragmatic step towards facing the reality of one’s situation.

In the end, a pipe dream need not be a mere vestige of a lost culture steeped in the wayward historicity of timeless depravity; for, as the past continues to haunt both individuals and the greater society, so the words which follow may describe a regeneration of that which was once forgotten, but still remains in the residue of unvanquished sins.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement: The Question of Worth

Whether animals consider the question or not, they certainly make judgments based upon prudence, calculation and quantification of effort involved; but perhaps not in some conceptually systematic approach.  “Worth” can involve multiple meanings: of time expended; monetized value; quality; but always involving the evaluative process of comparative analysis.

It is this latter process which is important for the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker in determining whether to proceed with preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset. The comparison may be on different levels, and pitted against and between various elements: priority of values (health versus continuation and persistence in present circumstances); current financial condition in contrast to future reduced benefits; the penalties imposed by taking an early retirement as opposed to a Federal Disability Retirement; the length of the process in contrast to one’s age and cost of hiring an attorney; and many such similar factors to be analyzed.

Perhaps the only comparative analysis which need not be engaged is the one which the Agency implicitly compels: The worth of self, derived from the manner in which the agency or the U.S. Postal Service treats the Federal or Postal employee once it becomes evident that the Federal or Postal employee has a medical condition such that it prevents him or her from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, and thereby consideration must be given to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Other animals never ask that question of self-worth, as survival and Darwinian principles prevail and overtake the inherently nonsensical nature of such a question; it is only the human being who ever questions the worth of self, and only within the greater context of a society which places a premium upon questions unworthy of consideration.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Disability Benefits: The Eyes Which Betray the Laughter

Plato noted the significance of the eyes; as windows of the soul, they reveal the depth of emotion, character, empathy, interest, boredom, meanness, etc.; and just as true, the lack thereof.  Laughter provides the concordance of mirth to context; cacophony occurs when the harmony between the two somehow fails to connect.

The pinnacle of sadness is represented when one looks upon an individual, hears the laughter, and sees the revelatory sadness deep within the eyes of the soul.  The discordant contrast takes us aback; it is perhaps the height of self-contradiction, where the parallel universes which are never supposed to transect, suddenly violate the very content of definition, and betray the consciousness of self-doubt.

What has transpired?  What tragedy has befallen?  It brings to mind the poignant story by Chekhov, entitled “Grief” (or otherwise translated as “Misery”), where the death of the son is magnified by the haunting question, “With whom shall I tell my grief?”  As the world he continues to encounter is filled with passengers who laugh and carry on with life, the father must continue within the disharmony of his own tragedy.

Medical conditions tend to do that to people; it remains silent, but for the sharing beyond the perfunctory response to the passing, “Hello, how are you?”  We are expected to say merely, “Fine, thank you,” and move on.  Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers know about the emotional disjunctive between the eyes and the emitting laughter.  When the sound of mirth and the sight of pain clash, it is probably time to make an exit by filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

While often not the “best solution”, it allows for the Federal or Postal worker to leave one’s employment, secure a disability annuity, and seek a restoration of one’s health, in order to reinvigorate the soul behind the eyes of tragedy.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a long and arduous journey through a bureaucratic maze.  There is the process itself; the need to substantively put together and formulate an effective and persuasive disability retirement packet; and then the long wait before the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Every Federal and Postal employee must make the decision of when and how; but as to the “why” of the foundation, it is when the eyes begin to betray the laughter, that affirmative steps need to be taken to begin to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire