Federal & Postal Disability Retirement from OPM: Feelings

There are appropriate contexts within which to consider them, as well as places, insertions, events and conversational modalities where it is partly or entirely irrelevant; but as with most things in life, the boundaries that bifurcate are not always clear and distinct.  When one is considering purely subjective circumstances, it is clearly the “appropriate” moment — of personal relationships; of a vacation to be taken; of emotions being considered.

In a court of law, it is probably not the best approach to take with a judge; although, in the sentencing phase or the “damages” argument to be made to a jury, it may be the singular force of persuasive impact that makes not only the distinction unclear, but the decision quite the decisive edge.

“Feelings” are to be reserved for puppies, late nights in bed with a fever, and how the toes tickle when lying on a grassy knoll in the middle of summer when the lone ant walks along the pathway of your bare skin.

Do we dare admit to them?  When you are in a heated argument, is it not an oxymoron to shout, “Feelings don’t have anything to do with it!”  For, what is the criteria to be applied when making a decision based upon them?  Does the spectrum of emotions never cloud one’s judgment?  Or can we, as we often claim, set them aside so easily, like so many automatons in those doomsday movies that have become popularized, where androids and mechanized juggernauts that have taken over the earth and tried to suppress humanity are now the very beings whom we always wanted to emulate?

And what of the French Existentialists and the horror of reaction to that old favorite, “Invasion of the body snatchers” — what was it that made it so fascinating, where beings were stripped of their souls and emotions were all of a sudden undone, extinguished and no longer relevant, where bodies devoid of feelings walked about the earth like so many empty tombs?

Feelings are funny animals; they make up so much of who we are, and yet we spend a lifetime trying to avoid the very essence of that which makes up who we are.

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 the Federal or Postal job, the anomaly concerning “feelings” becomes quickly apparent: for, confronted with having to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application before an administrative body — the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — you are asked to remain “clinical” and antiseptic in the face of “proving” the medical evidence by the cold calculus of “the law”, and yet at the same time you are trying to convey your “feelings” with respect to the impact of the pain, the anguish of anxiety or the daily levels of profound fatigue felt.

It is a tightrope, balancing act that must be done with expertise, subtle techniques and an interspersing of line-crossing deftly engaged. Completing the SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, is the single most important form in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, aside from gathering the proper medical documentation and making the persuasive legal argumentation.

For, in the end, that lifetime of trying to suppress those “feelings” must be utilized carefully, yet at the same time you have to be persuasive enough to touch upon the emotional makeup of a fellow human being who, also, likely has had to suppress those same feelings in order to apply “the law”.  Go figure.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The period in-between

It is the squeeze that we abhor, the suspension of life during that time.  Like the craven soul that is relegated to purgatory or the mass murderer that must await the culmination of the sentence imposed, it is the period in-between that is wasted because we are frozen in time by the certainty of the past already ensconced and the future that is determined but yet to be fulfilled.  That is the rub, isn’t it?

The uncertainty; whether the future can be altered or modified; or has fate already made an irreversible decision and judgment?

When Scrooge encounters that ghostly apparition representing the future in Dickens’ classic tale, A Christmas Carol, isn’t that the question posed – whether the course of future events as foretold could be altered, modified, reversed or otherwise replaced?  But while we wait, what can be done?  For, in reality, it is too often thought that only the judgment rendered can then be worked upon, worked around or somehow accepted submissively as fated karma that cannot be countered.

Thus is that the reaction of Federal and 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 the Federal or Postal position – it becomes the period “in-between”.

It is the “in-between” doctor’s appointments to see whether there is any hope of getting better; “in-between” performance reviews to see if anyone at work has noticed; “in-between” temporary teleworking arrangements to see if the Federal Agency can extend the authorization; “in-between” surgery and recovery to see if you can go back to full duty; and on and on, “in-between” the crazy universe of a medical condition and a dying hope for a future withering on the vines of other’s expectations.

It is like being stuck in mud, frozen in time, watching as the impending future comes upon you.

However, there is an affirmative step that can be taken to begin the process of altering, modifying and changing the course of an expected future event – by preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

While filing a Federal Disability Retirement application may not be a solution to the medical condition itself, it is a step towards altering and modifying the course of future events that are controlled by the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, by accessing an employment benefit that recognizes that you can no longer perform the essential elements of your particular Federal or Postal job, but there may be other things in life that you may be able to pursue.

That is how the period in-between can better be embraced, by making sure that the future does not end with a definitive period at all, but merely by a comma that represents a brief pause.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Admitting defeat

It is probably the single most difficult thing to do in life, and its inability reflects upon the abysmal state of education, both higher and lower.  The manner in which education is perpetuated – where “right answers” receive accolades and admitting of defeat merely alters the pecking order of who is admired and who are relegated to the detritus of human society – merely reinforces the greater loss of empathy, the destruction of civility and the coarsening of society.

Facebook, too, merely perpetuates the focus upon destroying an opponent and quieting any voices that may provide a quiet revolution, as alternate voices are silenced into submission by mere meanness of bombardment and repetition.  Some would applaud this all-too Darwinian approach as merely reinforcing the innate nature of “survival of the fittest” – for, admitting defeat is tantamount to revealing weakness, and the weak are mere fodder for the strong and stronger.

Whether in argumentation of discourse or fighting battles, wars – real or virtual – or verbal encounters characterized as harmless skirmishes on the Internet, it matters not anymore the manner in which one prevails, only that one does reach the apex of any endeavor, profession or undertaking.

Once upon a time, there were some rules of engagement – of a civil discourse where debates were conducted in quiet tones and respectful venues, and where humility called for admission of recognizing the greater argument which results in establishing the goal for the greater good.  Now, it matters not the means; for the end justifies the means and if you can shout down the opponent, lie about the facts and cheat around the strategy, it is the winner who is looked up to and the victor who walks away with the spoils.

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 positional duties, it may be that the best way to avoid admitting defeat is to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, but somehow one’s priorities have become skewered in this obsessive-world where admitting a medical condition is tantamount to admitting defeat, as opposed to merely recognizing the limits of human endurance and the frailty of the human condition.

Fortunately, the rules governing Federal Disability Retirement benefits allow for the Federal or Postal employee receiving Federal Disability Retirement benefits to go out into the private sector, or even into the state or local government, and work at another job or vocation and make up to 80% of what one’s Federal Government or Postal job currently pays, and thus, to that extent, obtaining a Federal Disability Retirement annuity is not considered admitting defeat, but merely a change of venue in the pathways of life’s complexities throughout.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Disability Retirement: In the “not working” world

Excellence is rarely seen; the artisan is dead to the world; and we all struggle through knowing that trinkets from foreign countries symbolize the incompetence of the universe in which we must continue to exist.  Something is not working.  We all know it, feel it, worry about it and whisper in circles where such things are concealed and rarely revealed.

Life is formed by multiple concentric circles; we live within various spectrums of such parallel universes, sometimes entering into one and exiting another; at other times, remaining stuck in between.  There is the objective reality “other there”; there is, then, the subjective world of our own thoughts, emotions, anxieties and unspoken soliloquies.

There are “worlds” out there that we know nothing about – of corporate boardrooms where issues are discussed that we only read about; of high places and conspiracies; of dungeons in other countries where unimaginable torture and cruelty are conducted; and all throughout, we remain within the narrow concentric circle of our family, friends, the limited sphere of people we know, and the problems that loom large within the consciousness of our own worlds.

Throughout, we know that there was once a time, long since past, where the world worked better; maybe, perfection had never been achieved, but the age of politeness, of courtesy, of communities actually caring and thriving; or, perhaps that existed only in those old black-and-white television shows like “Leave it to Beaver” or “Happy Days” (yes, yes, the latter one was in color).

There is a sense, today, that something is not working; that we live in a “not working” world, and no repairman can be called to “fix it” because no one has the skill or expertise to diagnose the problem, and even if there were such a person, we don’t quite know what the “it” is, anyway.

It is quite like a medical condition that begins to impede, to impose, to interfere – like Federal and Postal employees who have dedicated their entire lives to working for a Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, then are beset with a medical condition that begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position.

What does one do?  Can the doctor “fix” it?  Often, we have to simply live with it.

In those circumstances, the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition and can no longer perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, who lives in that concentric circle of a reality of living in a “not working” world, must consider the next steps – of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in order to step into another concentric universe of sorts, and move on in life.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire



OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: The picture album

Time was, every family had a picture album – that anachronism bound carefully in a large leather book-shaped monstrosity, kept safe where dust settles and mice scurry around; taken out for occasions where boredom is accentuated and friends or neighbors have stayed long past their welcome, and so it is taken out carefully, dusted off and laboriously paged through, telling of a history for each page, each photograph laid meticulously upon the thick plaster-backboard of a person’s history.

It used to be that we all had one picture for an event – or, two at most, once Peoples Drug (for those who are old enough to remember; and that, in and of itself, was somewhat of a historical marker – when “Peoples” Drug – the drugstore of the “people”, was bought out by successive entities of greater reserve until it finally became a nondescript, boringly corporate entity under the designation of “CVS”; somehow, something was lost when the corner drugstore started in a suburb of D.C. was engulfed by mergers and corporate purchases) declared a two-for-one sale.

Of course, we all kept in safekeeping those brownish negatives that neatly fit into those thin plastic columns (i.e., thrown into a drawer based upon the sequence of receipt) – you know, the ones you hated to slide out because you could never get it back in without bending them, and somehow you suspected that they were never meant to be fit within the columns of plastic in the first place.

Somehow, there was something quaint and innocent about a picture album that only had one shot of a slice of life that told a limited tale about a person’s continuum of historical detail – by contrast, today’s Smartphone and digital chip that can hold literally thousands of photographs, and the person who is willing to show all in a public display for everyone in the universe to see, by downloading, uploading, displaying and replaying, for a person barely in his or her twenties.

The picture album is an anachronism, telling in its humility, limited access and manifesting a humble origin of consciousness.  It is a relic that bifurcates a “before” and an “after” – of a time now gone and lost forever, replaced by an after that manifests a change most of us never asked for.

To that end, the picture album is likened to a Federal or Postal employee with a medical condition.  That Federal or Postal employee suffers from a history of that which most of his or her coworkers are completely unaware of.  And like the picture album that is taken out from the dusty bookshelves of a corner closet, when the Federal or Postal employee comes to a point of needing to file 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, the reaction displayed by others is often one of boredom, lack of concern or even of interest shown in forced phoniness.  For, what others know or find out about a person’s life – even of his or her medical condition – is ultimately a private slice of life that is shared with quiet discretion.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Attorney Representation Federal Disability Retirement: Quiet

Is “quiet” the same as silence?  Or, of lack of noise?  Is it a state of mind-body consonance, where the body can remain calm and unmoving, yet the mind remains racing with thoughts, and in that state of being, do we fool ourselves to think that the outer world will not impact the inner mind?  Or, in reverse order?

Quiet is that which we strive for, in a world where din is the normalcy of life.  Can medical conditions that betray that which we strive for be understood by those who do not experience it?

Consider Tinnitus – that condition where there is a constant “sound”, whether of ringing, hissing or clanging that disrupts any consistency of a person’s striving for quiet, and this, despite everyone else in the “objective” world being quite oblivious to the “hearing” of such sounds.  Or, of the person who is deaf or progressively losing one’s acoustic acuity – can the rest of the world understand such a state of reality?

We assume, as we operate throughout the world on a daily basis, that because others appear to act in similar ways, that their inner beings and states of minds are similarly situated.  To “think alike” is to remain comfortable; and to attain “quiet” is not just to avoid the constant rush of living, but to reach a plateau where life is consistent, predictable and somewhat boring.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who experience the disquietude of a medical condition, where a combination of multiple factors come to the fore: Of a medical condition that prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties; of “noises” from one’s agency, supervisors and managers of deficiencies in performance, attendance or quota goals; of being placed upon a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP); of receiving a “warning” memorandum concerning one’s use of leave, whether Sick, Annual or LWOP; of harassment even when one has invoked FMLA rights; or of the step just prior to the last one – a proposed termination, then a termination; it may be time to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be ultimately submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

“Quiet” is not just a state of how things are in one’s home; one can lose that goal of quiet by bringing home the stresses of work’s harassment and adversarial environment, and it doesn’t have to be an actual medical condition such as Tinnitus or progressive deafness – although those may also be a qualifying basis upon which to file a Federal Disability Retirement application – but multiple other medical conditions, as well, that result in the disquiet of robbing one’s quiet.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Disability Retirement: Keeping it together

Living in modernity is a complex juggling act that never ends.  Simplicity recollected in former times often harken towards an idealization that perhaps never existed, where toil, labor and survival were a coalescence of a person’s life, and meaning was never divorced from what one was engaged in, the acts of striving, the struggle to earn a living.

Modernity magnifies Marx’s observation that human discontent is a result of separating man’s labor from the self-esteem of accomplishment, where the factory worker sees merely a microcosm of monotony but never possesses the self-satisfaction of any meaningful end to the assembly-line of life.

Instead, today we are a fractured sort, running like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off (and we don’t even quite understand what that means, anymore, as no one lives on a farm to understand that when a predatory owl comes swooshing down and severs the upper portion of a cock-a-doodling bird, the feet continue to pedal forward even after the headless horseman is taken away), awakening, rushing, being dazed and in a trance to view the multiple screens of a Smartphone, the laptop, the desktop and being directed by electronic voices of commandeering vehicles, parking barometers and driverless vehicles to merely observe as bystanders in a world gone mad.

Credit crunch, debt overload, children brought into the world without direction or means, and droughts, famine and wars and rumors of wars beyond; it is a burden just to try keeping it together, these days.

Promises have been made for decades plus of technology granting a reprieve both in time, effort and human toil, and the time for leisure which the totalitarianism of oppressive modernization has detailed has somehow never come to fruition.  Work, and more work; overtime; the juggling of family time, work, filial commitments and more work; and we can “have it all”, or so they keep telling us.

Email was supposed to undercut the need for the snail’s pace of the Postal Service, but now we are bombarded with an exponential quantification of that which we used to open with a mail opener, inserting carefully into the edge of the fold and slicing gently so as not to spoil the contents within; and somehow that very act of ancient and tactile connection between the eye, the hands, the metal implement and the organic material of an unopened letter gave it a personal bond of sorts, even in a mechanized office setting.  Today, it is merely one more click of a computer button to open up the electronic mail.

“Keeping it all together” – is it possible, anymore?

Then, when you consider an unwanted intruder – a medical condition both unexpected and unforeseen – is it any wonder that things quickly fall apart.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who find it difficult to continue in one’s chosen Federal or Postal career, when the medical condition no longer allows the Federal or Postal employee to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, it may well be time to recognize that the fundamental basis of keeping it all together rests upon the ability to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire