Legal Representation OPM Disability Retirement: A good turn

At what point does a “good” turn transform into a negative?  Can one help so much so that dependency becomes the habit and negates the “goodness” that was once always a part of the deed?  Isn’t “going to work” a “good” thing?  When does it turn bad?  Is there ever a point where the quality of X becomes diluted so much so by the quantitative increase of the primary identifying ingredient of X to where the essence of X becomes negative-X because of too much X within X?  Can there be, in the simplest of terms, too much goodness where goodness itself turns bad because of the overwhelming goodness involved?  Why is it that the following syllogism doesn’t quite work, and where is the fallacy involved?

Water is a necessary component for life
Life requires water in abundance in order to survive
Therefore, the more water, the greater abundance of life

But we all know that consuming too much water can kill a person.  And, isn’t that the complaint that we have in almost all aspects of living — that we come back to Aristotle’s essential wisdom that there is a “mean” or a “middle ground” of moderation where the extremes on either sides — neither too much nor too little — is the balance in the life that one should always strive for.

That is the basic component of happiness reduced to its pure essentials: of the porridge that is neither too hot nor too cold, but “just right”; of leisure time that relaxes but doesn’t rob from sustained periods of productivity; of a nap that satisfies but doesn’t make one groggy; and of entertainment that borders just to the edge of credibility but stays within the boundaries of allowing one to suspend disbelief, such that one can enjoy it without sighing, turning to a loved one and declaring, “That just isn’t believable.”

But where technology comes into our lives, perhaps we have come to a saturation point where we no longer believe that the “next new innovation” is going to save us any more time or enhance the quality of our lives anymore than the last version of our Smart Phone give us the promise of nirvana that we all stand in long lines to attain.  And so the question again turns full circle: When does a “good” turn into a negative?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers whose medical conditions have come to a point where it prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, the vicious circularity of the circumstances makes it into a paradigm where a good turns into a negative: Coming to work exacerbates the medical condition; the stress of being unable to perform the full essential elements of the Federal or Postal job further increases the stress; the Agency or the Postal facility begins to turn upon the Federal or Postal employee; and the job itself — once one of the many “good” things in life — now becomes a detriment and a negative.

It is then time to consider preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and thus turning that which was once a “good” but had transformed into a negative, back into a good turn.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


FERS & CSRS Disability Pension: In between preparations for vanishing

The Biblical reference is where John the Baptist declared that his role in the historical narrative would naturally diminish by relevance in order for the primary character to loom large upon a world in need of a coming savior.  Each of us strive daily to accomplish, achieve and advance (ah, the 3 “A’s” might be the title of the next New York Times Bestseller on the mass marketing list of self-help books); that is the natural inclination from birth to death – or, at the very least, until one has expended and exhausted the reservoir of stamina each retains for the daily battle of life itself.

What we fail to recognize is that, as another book of wisdom in an age prior to the declaration of a coming earthquake that would split the earth and crack the old barrels of fermenting wine (figuratively stated) pointed out, there is a time, a season and the proper context when certain acts should be considered (paraphrasing here), and prominent among them the capacity to recognize the appropriate time to begin paring back, preparing to recede and allow for the next generation to take its successive position of assertive presence.

Do we embrace the in between preparations for vanishing, or do we fight against it because that is what we have done all throughout our lives?

It is important, for instance, to apply the principle of eventual vanishing when one becomes a parent, in order to foster the self-confidence of a son or daughter; to slowly, incrementally and seemingly naturally allow for the opinions and views of the younger ones to grow in stature, relevance and significance, such that when adulthood is reached, the lowering of the parent’s perspective becomes equal to the rising of the child’s self-image.

At that point, when the balance between childhood and esteem for one’s parents meets in the middle upon a spectrum of wide variance, parent and child can become co-equals of a sort, and “friends” as much as a parent and child can be.  In order to achieve that goal, however, it is necessary to engage in “in between” preparations for vanishing – not to totally obliterate the relevance of one’s historical accomplishments, but to incrementally diminish in magnification and presence.

Fighting against the need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is often based upon the lack of recognition that in between preparations for vanishing is a natural and necessary part, at a certain stage in life, during a particular season of one’s career, and when the time necessitates.  Yes, the Federal career and the Postal work provided a sense of identity and granted a purpose, focus and compelling force during the productive career – but now, the season has changed, the context has altered and the time has ripened in another direction.

It is time to engage the in between preparations for vanishing – not to totally disappear, but to diminish, such that when a Federal Disability Retirement is attained, the next stage of one’s life can be opened for that which we term the greater adventure of life.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: Uncharacteristic Behavior

It is the clash between an expectation and the actualization of an encounter, which determines one’s perspective of self-fulfillment of a belief, or a resulting dismay from failure of verifying the basis of a paradigm.  Characteristic behavior is thus that type of human encounter which meets with, or exceeds, one’s predetermined paradigm of what one has already believed to be so; to act out of that previously considered belief system, by definition makes it fall outside of the realm of such expectation.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker, the bureaucratic complexity of the entire administrative process of preparing, formulating and 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 normally not a surprise, and meets with or even exceeds, the expectation of an already-formed paradigm of what constitutes the “characteristic behavior” of the system as a whole.

It is the anomaly of the century when efficiency, helpfulness and pleasantries prevail throughout the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, where one hears with surprise and shock that it was “uncharacteristic”.  Sadly, that tells us something.  While somewhat unfortunate, we must always remember that the road of every bureaucratic process is paved with personalities of every type.  We tend to lump the entirety of an administrative process into a single cup and cauldron of judgment, but the reality is that there are multiple categories, just as there are different types of people throughout the universe, distinctly compartmentalized into:  helpful; friendly; efficient; nasty; backstabber; fair; unfair; loyal; unpredictable; just to name a few.

The process of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through OPM can be a stressful one, if only because it is based upon an obvious stressor to begin with:  a medical condition which impacts one’s ability to perform one’s Federal or Postal job.  But it is not the bureaucratic process itself which adds or detracts from the inherent complexities of the process, but the behavior — characteristic or not — of those who must help along the way or hinder the necessary transition of the Federal or Postal employee, from one of active Federal or Postal employee to that of disability annuitant.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Disability Retirement Lawyer: Preemptive Actions

Knowledge can be a dangerous commodity; partial, or little knowledge, can be all the more damaging, precisely because actions can result based upon incomplete information and slices of factually curtailed composites.

The Court of the Appeals for the Federal Circuit has previously pointed out one of the methodological deficiencies engaged in by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in its review and determination of Federal Disability Retirement cases:  of focusing upon that which is not included in a Federal Disability Retirement application, as opposed to reviewing the information of what has been received.

Such a distinction may be a subtle one, and a difference which can be easily overlooked, but it reveals much more than mere word-play.  For, what it manifests is an application of a criteria based upon an erroneous assumption, and one which continues to be applied to this day, despite case-law which admonishes OPM to the contrary.

Vanieken-Ryals v. OPM, a 2007 Federal Court of Appeals case, points out the error of OPM’s ways in Federal Disability Retirement cases, where insistence upon “objective” medical evidence continues to dominate, despite the lack of such requirement to the contrary.  Such an issue is especially relevant, of course, in cases where psychiatric medical conditions prevail, and when OPM insists upon the lack of such “objective” medical evidence where none can be obtained, it leads to Federal and Postal employees to react desperately in a preemptively unreasonable frenzy of actions.

Not knowing the law is one thing; knowing, but deliberately ignoring it, is quite another.  But the price Federal and Postal employees pay for when a bureaucracy engages in practices which clearly defy the clear mandate of legal requirement, results in preemptive actions which ultimately lead to another day in Court, to argue that which one thought was previously already established.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Medical Retirement: The Value of Consistency

Consistency establishes validity; validation results in enhancement of credibility; and credibility prevails over minor errors and unintended oversights.  In analyzing a narrative, or engaging in a comparative analysis of two or more documents, it is the factual and historical consistency which allows for a conclusion of validated credibility. When a pattern of inconsistencies arise, suspicions of intentional misdirection beyond mere minor error, begins to tinge.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, or even CSRS Offset, the question of sequential order of documentary preparation is important. Such relevance on this matter can be gleaned if the preparation is looked at retrospectively — not from the beginning of the process, but rather, from the perspective of OPM and how they review and determine cases.

With that perspective in mind, it is important to prepare and formulate one’s Federal Disability Retirement application based upon the appreciated value of consistency, and as consistency of statements, purpose, coordination of documentary support and delineated narrative of one’s disability and its impact upon one’s inability to perform the essential elements of one’s positional duties is recognized, an effective Federal Disability Retirement application will be formulated with deliberative efficacy, and where retrospection through introspection will result in increasing the prospective chances of success.

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Medical Retirement: The Categorical Imperative

It is, of course, the foundation of Kant’s moral philosophy; of the unconditional call to act in a certain way, accepted and mandated precisely because there is no room for question.  But that life were so easy; automatons would simply act in mechanistic ways, driven by moral certitude; free will could be determined by the comforting thought that universal codes of conduct shall always confine and direct.  And bureaucracies would always make decisions within a framework of computational algorithms.

But Federal Disability Retirement is not a matter of a diagnosis; unlike Social Security Disability, which does contain a semblance of categorical imperatives when it comes to certain medical conditions, the preponderance of the proof needed in becoming eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is threefold: First, the minimum number of years under FERS (18 months of creditable Federal Service) or CSRS (5 years, which is presumably already met by everyone in that retirement system); Second, a medical condition which came into existence during the time of Federal Service (with some arguable exceptions within one (1) year of being separated from Federal Service); and Third, a nexus of relevant impact between one’s medical condition and the essential elements of one’s positional duties one performs for the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

It is this third step in the process which effectively compels one to step outside of the identification of Federal Disability Retirement laws as containing an element of the categorical imperative; for, in the end, it is not simply an evaluation of “which category” one falls into, but rather, how significant and persuasive is the bridge built upon between the two primary land masses:  one’s medical condition (land mass #1) and the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job (land mass #2).

That metaphorical “bridge” must be constructed with care, clarity, and concrete argumentation of persuasive force in order to withstand the inspecting scrutiny of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Look upon it as if OPM is walking through the construction site with a hard hat, pen in hand and taking notes furiously in attempting to discover deficiencies in the qualification standards imposed.  Jumping up and down and screaming at the inspector that the bridge fits into a pre-defined category will not suffice; instead, the categorical imperative must be argued for by pointing to the medical evidence, the law, and the connective tissues which form the effective and persuasive confluence of all of the elements which comprise the ultimate imperative of life:  that of a methodology of argumentation that one is “right”.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire