OPM Disability Retirement: The Problematic Loss of Confidence

Confidence is an ethereal character trait; in some ways, it is self-perpetuating, as success relies upon it, and feeds it, which in turn reinforces any lack thereof.  At once fleeting but full, the loss of it can be devastating.

For some, a mere look of doubt or suspicion from others can undermine the fullness of possession one may have had of it just a moment before; for others, whether lack of competence or never having had any reason for possession of it appears to matter not, and like self-esteem in the generation of modernity and “me”, a complete void of accomplishments seems not to overturn those who accumulate an abundance of it.  But weakness or negation from outside sources can be the final straw in undermining that sensitive sense of self, and a medical condition which attacks the body, mind and psyche of an individual can be devastating.

Thus, when the Federal or Postal employee who has confidently strode throughout a long and satisfying career, whose performance has raised eyebrows of accolades beyond mere efforts of competence, and where performance reviews have always included adjectives and superlatives searched out beyond mere templates previously applied with thoughtless automation, the introduction of a medical condition into the life of such a Federal or Postal employee can be like the Martian Chronicles revealing the strangeness of alien cultures clashing in a battle of titans heard beyond the roar of civilizations long lost and forgotten.

Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who struggle with this, resist the necessity of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, precisely because the disbelief is overwhelming that, somehow, this loss of what was once taken for granted, could possibly be.  But as “possibility” includes the building of concrete structures in thin air, whereas “probability” involves the hard computation of one’s life and “reality-living” in a harsh and uncaring universe, so the Federal or Postal employee must take into account that past foundations of accomplishments may not uphold the confidence once shared and held by a Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

Confidence, indeed, is like the golden dust sprinkled sparingly by the fluttering angels of yesteryear; and today is a dawn of dying expectations, where the harsh realities of a medical condition must be faced with a freshness of purpose, reserved for that fight which may require one’s presence on a day in future pasts, unforseen and as of yet unfought.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Disability Retirement: The Extrapolated Life

Originating from mathematics, the concept of extrapolation works well within numerical or statistical restrictions, because the inherent precision constrained by present trends versus application to unknown quantities, poses a self-correcting device not otherwise discovered with linguistic flexibility.

But what of a person’s life?  Most descriptions possess mere “slice of life” indicators.  An employment application; information gathered on a background check; security clearances obtained; personal financial statements; a family discussion about an incident which involved a relative; these are all moments in time, partial reflections upon a wider context of a complex life.  But that is how we are viewed, and how we view others; for, it is simply an impossibility to convey, or to hold with accurate assessment, the entirety of a person’s life, leaving aside the lives of everyone and anyone we encounter.

And so we are left with designating labels of convenience; that is John who works in IT; Mary, the office manager, and oh, by the way, she has two kids, one of whom had the flu last week; and so it goes.  Are such categorical delegations adequate?  For specific purposes, and in defined ways, they are useful in their own methodological curtailments.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are intending to 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, it serves well to understand the relevance of contextual extrapolation.  For, people have a tendency to want to tell the fullness of one’s life story.

Where to begin?  How to introduce one’s self.  What to include, and what to exclude.

Such is the contrast between David Copperfield and Holden Caulfield; the lengthy version of a biography, or the brevity of a pointed narrative.  Most want to divulge the former; the listener normally desires the latter.  To divulge too much is to indulge in needless chatter; discretion is, indeed, often the greater part of valor.

Thus, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, in the writing of one’s narrative, one should try and apply the precision-methodology of extrapolation in mathematics, but with a linguistic application sufficient to relate the relevant facts.

In the end, Caulfield’s concerns were probably overstated, and Copperfield’s remembrances of past childhood hurts could have been somewhat abbreviated; and a compromise between the two in all likelihood would have produced the best of narratives, at least for purposes of an OPM Disability Retirement application.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (often referred to by its acronym, PTSD), is often associated with war-time experiences and specific traumatic incidents.  Often accompanied by other psychiatric conditions (e.g., Major Depression, anxiety, panic attacks), it can be characterized by symptoms of nonrestorative sleep resulting from intrusive thoughts, nightmares, inability to focus and be attentive because of hypervigilance, and multiple other similar correlative symptoms.  

In filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, the Office of Personnel Management will often make the spurious and irrelevant argument that the applicant failed to pinpoint a “specific incident” which “triggered” the PTSD.  However, most psychiatric medical reports and narratives which I have reviewed do not necessarily require such a triggering incident.  Indeed, it can often be as a result of a series of stressful events which came to a “boiling point” where the Federal or Postal worker could no longer tolerate the stresses of daily life beyond a certain flash point — and for each individual, that point of “no tolerance” is different and distinct, precisely because each individual is a unique being.  

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD as is commonly known, is a viable basis for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS — but as with all medical conditions, must be conveyed in a narrative which is understandable and linked to one’s inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire