Federal Disability Retirement Representation: Last stands

Of course, the one that always pops up in one’s mind is the most ignoble of them all, with the image from the movies depicted over and over: Of a blond-haired, straggly and wild-eyed man with a mustache of extravagant vintage taking a desperate last stand against the charging Indians.  Custer’s last stand somehow reverberates throughout the mythology of the American West, even though folly is mistakenly replaced by some view of courage or other laudable character traits.

It is the last stand of American Lore; but there are many others besides, some known, most in the private worlds that never become public.  We all have them; the proverbial line in the sand, the wall against which our backs are blocked, or perhaps the final straw that breaks the camel’s back.

When Federal Agencies propose a removal of a Federal employee, it is the “last stand” both for the Federal agency as well as for the Federal employee.  Or, is it the “last straw”?  Is there a difference between the two?  The latter, of course, constitutes the final act by one or the other individual or entity, and represents a reflection of having no other alternative, no room for compromise and left with no other choice.  But that also describes the former, to the extent that it reflects a situation that allows for no further room but to remain resolved in whatever hill of pride or fortitude one must consecrate the grounds with.

Last stands, however, need not result in the consequences that Custer’s famous one represents.  It need not be the final arbiter of a life well lived, and still to be lived.  Yet, Federal and Postal employees who suffer from 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 job, often look upon his or her medical condition as a “last stand” of sorts – one that ends one’s career and, in some mindsets, the very life that one is gifted with.

But keeping a balanced and proper perspective is important in all matters (though, for Custer as he realized that he had been boxed into a valley where there was no escape, perhaps there was no such thing as a “balanced perspective”), and the Federal or Postal employee finding him or herself in the “last stand” position of no longer being able to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, is still left with some alternatives – one being, filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

It is an option that should be seriously considered, for having the benefit of a Federal Disability Retirement allows for a second career in the private sector or public state or local government, and allows the Federal or Postal employee to continue in another vocation or career, thus avoiding the disastrous consequences that have been historically annotated by Custer’s last stand.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Analogies

It is the greater concept often developed through metaphors and similes; but to the extent they are now of use depends largely upon the shared cultural context within which we live.  If Classical literature is no longer the common thread of meaningful discourse, can references to them in creating analogies work?  To share that a person’s tragedy is more Shakespeare than Milton, or that the individual’s circumstances remind one more akin to The Road to Wigan Pier than Brideshead Revisited, can such conversations take on a relevant pathway if the intellectual divide fails to be crossed?

You can, of course, always Google and quickly get the quick rundown of the literary reference through electronic Spark Notes, or some other venue of shortcutting the arduous endeavor reserved in former times; but even that may reveal an inadequacy that cannot be overcome.  For, of what part of the book or author is being referred to?  Is it any particular play or poem, or the entirety of the work itself?  Is it any specific character or scene?

Some philosophers have posited that, by and large, we comprehend and make sense of the objective world through the use of analogies, built upon by metaphors and similes; for, language itself is a conglomerate of such literary devices.  To face the universe purely for survival’s sake is to forego the need for imposing the ordering through language; animals do not require it, but in the most rudimentary of mechanisms that advance warning signs and preemptive communications; it is only in the arena of human constructs where categorical imperatives need to be assigned in order to filter the world into more palatable and circumscribed entities for processing the complexities we have created.

Analogies thus communicate through the medium of shared conceptual constructs, where we draw in the recipient and spectator, the audience of our targeted comparisons, by relating a shared, known and familiar encapsulation of linguistic constructs.  It is only when the strangeness of the metaphor, the unfamiliarity of the reference, creates further puzzlement and loss of connection, that problems occur and relationships become fissures of language games gone awry.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal employees who suffer from 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 positional duties, the applicability of providing a foundational construct of relating one’s story to an “administrative specialist” at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will often involve – and require – analogies by default.

Use them sparingly; utilize discretion; and, in writing up one’s narrative in response to the questions posed on SF 3112A (Applicant’s Statement of Disability), remember that this is not the time, the context or the best place to try out radical, untested metaphors, similes or analogies.

Thus, while those who have read Orwell’s work, The Road to Wigan Pier, as well as Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, may find a clever and appropriate place in one’s Applicant’s Statement of Disability to make some brilliant literary reference, it may be more prudent to stick to the medical facts and incorporate those supportive documents in dealing with analogies of life, health, and the nexus between the latter and one’s Federal or Postal job duties.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement: Fated Lives Intersecting

To state that, because something has happened, it was fated to happen, is to merely confess a tautology of meaningless repetition; and so there must be more to it than what the words themselves seem to logically undermine.  Thus, when Cassius lamented to Brutus that men at times “are master of their fates; the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings,” he was referring to the clash between human will and the predetermination of events already set, and despite our best efforts, our condemnation by force of will, it is our own pathos that evinces tragedy.

From Classical Greek mythologies to Heraclitus and beyond, the one constant throughout is that, like the river which ever flows and shifts to erode the currency in time, there is little that we can do to forego the fated intersection of lives.

The people we sit beside in school, whether we reach out to make friends or ignore in silent disdain; the lives we impact, whether by choice or by unintended disregard; it is because we cannot live in seclusion and the profound truism of John Donne’s poetry that, indeed, the bell tolls not for everyone else, but specifically for each person, that hamlets and hermitages abound in defiance of fated encounters.

That loneliness and sense of abandonment by all around, is never more powerful than when a person is beset with a medical condition, and suddenly it is as if one is either a martyr or a person shunned for contracting leprosy; either way, the doom of fate and the promising stars have banished any history of meaningful contributions previously attributable.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal position or Postal craft, the sense that the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service will not be supportive of a filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is not just a mere chimera based upon unfounded psychosis; it is, instead, a very real dilemma.

And that is where fate, will and intersecting lives must be deliberatively evaluated and carefully analyzed; for, who is informed, at what point, and when to speak words of intended acts, may govern the future course of an Agency’s reactive motive.  For, the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the time has clearly come when one may well believe that fated lives intersecting must be viewed not merely as a tautology of inane beliefs, but where careful scrutiny must be engaged in so that the stars do not interfere in the playful laughter of gods and karma, in the effective preparation, formulating and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: Magic & the laziness factor

Magic is something we cling on to, if only as a last vestige of the light of hope, flickering ever so delicately against the tumultuous winds of a world gone mad.  In childhood, it was an imagination enlivened by the pure delight of fairytales, mythologies and rhymes of wands in the single sweep where the golden dust of insurmountable problems is suddenly a trail of corrective bygones with mere words of incantations mysterious to eyes agape with wonderment and awe; and in the middle-to-growing times, the words altered somewhat, the concept changed and the linguistic construct evolved to imply an attitude, a hope, an approach to future life based upon hard work, honesty and mere cannibalism of negative thoughts.

To remain positive was to overcome the vicissitudes of reality; to forego immediacy of pleasure, a pathway to self-discipline.  But time has a way of defeating and beating down even the best of men; there are few limits to the unseen enemy, and much which constrains the visible.

Is there magic to be gotten?  That hope without substance which we pray for; that lottery ticket in the face of statistical impossibility; and that verbiage we throw about by inane moments of meaningless contexts — “There is always tomorrow”.  What have we not shed but to which we cling?  To what do we cling that no longer applies?  Or is it mere laziness, the factor that we dismiss but for everyone else?

In modernity, of course, such tendencies and proclivities toward the magic of superstitions have become exponentially magnified through games of virtual reality, and the numerical chimera of Facebook “likes” replacing actual friendships and human bonds.  Then, when reality hits us square in the face, we fall apart all the more easily, for want of preparation in the face of true vicissitudes that shake the cavernous combustions of this world we live in.

Medical conditions are just one of those realities that cannot be ignored.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who one day wake up to the realization that there is no magic to impart when a 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, and that the pragmatic step of preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application may be the best alternative available, the conjunctive one must often face — “and the laziness factor” — is a reminder in two ways:  First, in making sure that you do not allow procrastination to impede the path towards a future for success, and Second, to not be deterred by coworkers and others who criticize ignorantly by alleging that it is all “made up” in order to “game” the system.

The law is what the law is; and Federal Disability Retirement is a system reflecting a progressive perspective on workers who can no longer perform a particular kind of job in the Federal sector and the U.S. Postal Service, but who may be able to remain productive in some other capacity in the private sector.  That is why Federal Disability Retirement annuitants are allowed to make up to 80% of what his or her (now former) Federal or Postal position currently pays, in addition to the annuity being received, and continue to retain the Federal Disability Retirement annuity — precisely because it is a recognition that the Federal or Postal employee is not “totally disabled“, but rather, disabled only from performing one or more of the essential elements of a particular job.

The “real world”, as a grown-up views it, must set aside the magic of make-believe trailing upon a disillusionment wrought in the face of experiential encounters that incrementally beat down and squeeze out the wonderment of childhood thoughts; but hope for a better tomorrow should never be extinguished, and while the flicker of a dying flame emitting light in the deep abyss of despondency overshadowing the magic of bygone days may indeed threaten the future, never allow for the appendage of the laziness factor deter the best step forward in preparing, formulating and filing an effective OPM Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire