OPM Disability Retirement under FERS: Interests at odds

A comity of interests has to arise in order for relationships to “work” — in whatever arena of meaning such a term must apply.  When interests are at odds, it means that the goals, orientation and direction of each of the parties are conflicted.  A “conflict”, of course, can be direct or indirect, and can be on various levels of complexities, but in general would imply a need to sever ties unless such conflicts are resolved.

In the employment arena, the comity of interests is fairly straightforward: The employer has a set of interests that need to be pursued; the employee, desiring to advance the interests of the employer, agrees to join in with the comity of interests in the common pursuit of stated goals.  Compensation is agreed upon; certain conditions are mutually stated and a contract, whether explicit or implied, is formed.

Conflicts may arise during the course of employment, of course; if a competitor makes an offer to the employee unbeknownst to the employer that directly or indirectly conflicts with the stated goals of the employer, certain ethical questions may arise.  Or, if certain employment conditions fail to be met, the “interests” of each begin to be “at odds” — an odd way of putting it, but that is the lexicon that has arisen in the employment arena.  It is almost a euphemism to avoid the harsh reality of other “choice” words.

Medical conditions can certainly “bring to odds” and damage the employer-employee relationship, and certainly Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers recognize that.

The “solution” that has been preemptively provided is the benefit known as “Federal Disability Retirement” — it is a means to avoid or otherwise resolve the conflict that arises when a Federal employee or Postal worker can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job — where, in the event of a medical condition no longer allowing for the Federal or Postal employee to fulfill certain of the employment conditions agreed upon (i.e., not being able to maintain a regular work attendance; unable to work full time any longer; taking too much SL or LWOP; unable to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, etc.), then it is time to access the benefit of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Of course, the “interests at odds” is not just between the employee and one’s own Federal Agency or the Postal Service — it is also as against another agency: The U.S. Office of Personnel Management who attempts to subvert, deny and otherwise place obstacles in obtaining an “approval” for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

That is why the “interests at odds” needs to have an advocate — of an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.  Consult with an attorney who can help you attain the comity of interests, and to counter that entity which clearly is at odds with your interests.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Disability Retirement: If life were a story

Could the First Chapter be changed?  Who will write the final chapter?  Does memory serve the dictates of truth, or does a bit of “fudging” occur as with every narrative told, taking liberally the artistic license to its extreme?  Will it be a Dickensian opening or a Salinger’s scoffing of the details of birth?  What genre would be encompassed: Fiction; autobiography; Science Fiction; a Narrative Poem, perhaps?  Can fact and fiction be interwoven, and will the middle parts include characters long forgotten, and some individuals be left out deliberately just out of pure spite?

But that we could write the ending to our own story — of dreams that were fulfilled, loves that embraced, regrets that could be erased.  To that extent, every life would then be a work of perfection, where each chapter being written as the experience of this encounter with the world became an undifferentiated reflection of a phenomena encased in self-fulfillment: As life is lived, the story is written; as the story is told, life follows upon the very telling.

Isn’t that what “virtual reality” is; or even of being lost in one’s daydreaming, and wishing for things beyond the bubble of real life?  If life were a story and we were the authors, every dream would be fulfilled, every fantasy satisfied, every thought completed, and every sentence punctuated with exactitude.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the “life” that becomes the “story” is the completion of SF 3112A — Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

That is the narrative, or the slice and portion thereof, that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will be reviewing and analyzing, and perhaps even “picking apart” if it is not told persuasively, punctuated punctiliously, and provided with clarity of purpose.  It is, indeed, the story of one’s life — a slice thereof, but one which must be a narrative in response to specific questions posed by SF 3112A.

Consult with an attorney before formulating and narrating; for the next chapter beyond, after the Federal Disability Retirement application has been filed, will be determined by how one tells the story of one’s medical condition and the nexus with one’s employment capacity.


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


FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Of true discourse and debate

A title immediately becomes “suspect” when the prefatory insertion of the word “true” is necessitated.  For, the noun which it is meant to enhance should be able to stand alone, without the reinforced embellishment that it is somehow more genuine than with the cousin’s uninvited presence.  It is like referring to a gemstone as a “valuable emerald” (what, one queries, would constitute an invaluable one?), or that such-and-such is a “very religious priest” (as opposed to an irreligious one?); and so to refer to the methodological approach of discourse and debate as one which is “true”, is to immediately undermine the very meaning of such a beginning.

But in modernity, where meaning has lost its efficacy and the elasticity of language has become epitomized by mindless You-Tube videos and an endless stream of nonsensical declarations preceded by a belief that, as pure relativism is rampant and presumed, it matters little who holds what opinion, the content of what is said, and not even the tone of intended consequences.

Once, in years past, there were “rules of engagement“, but three (3) foundational precepts needed to be followed in order to engage a valid discourse and debate.  First, that a distinction could be made between truth and falsity.  Second, that there existed a “superior” argument, based upon the combination of facts and rules of logical argumentation, in contradistinction to an “inferior” one.  But third — and this is the missing component in today’s endless shouting matches on television and radio waves — that each participant possessed a level of humility such that upon recognizing the inferiority of one’s one argument, a voluntary concession would be made, admitting to the superiority of the opponent’s argument.

While everyone recognizes and acknowledges the structural weakening of the first element, it is this last one which has devastated the entire process of today’s discourse and debate.  Of relevance to 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 the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is the extent, content and relevance of making a legal argument, and to what effectiveness and efficacy of substance, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with OPM.

In the end, bureaucracies are based upon the power of its established conduit of administrative complexity, and OPM is no different.  The U.S. Office of Personnel Management is made up of ultra-competent individuals who take their jobs very seriously, as well as with a mixture of some who are less than stellar.  That is the general make-up of all such organizations and governmental entities.

The structure of the right to appeal, however, is why a cogent discourse and debate must be prepared.  If the U.S. Office of Personnel Management denies a Federal Disability Retirement application twice (at the initial stage of the process, then again at the Reconsideration stage), then the Federal or Postal Disability Retirement applicant can file an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.  There, the Administrative Judge will hear all of the arguments made, afresh and anew, and consider the lack of constructive engagement and “weak points” of OPM’s arguments.  That is where all true discourse and debate must begin — before an audience with a listening ear.  And there we have that complementing and undesirable cousin again —  the “true” X, as opposed to an untrue one?


Robert R. McGill, Esquire