Federal Employee Disability Information: The fatigue of hiding

That’s the rub, isn’t it — that we spend so much energy trying to conceal it, that by the time the truth comes out, we don’t even care, anymore, and are often glad for the revelation and the blessing of not having to mask it any longer?  Whatever the “it” is that we attempt to conceal, hide, ignore of otherwise fail to reveal, the fatigue of hiding it, the constant commerce engaged in bartering for more time, avoiding a direct encounter or otherwise trying desperately to veil the truth, leaves us exhausted and spent.

Is it, on the other hand, like a John Le Carre novel, where the secret that everyone is attempting to protect is already known by all powers, but the constant struggle to maintain its confidentiality is more for appearance’s sake, and not because of the vital information underlying the apparent need to conceal?

The fatigue of hiding is indeed the exhausting effort being expended for what is otherwise known, or more importantly, wasted upon the known when the value of concealing is far surpassed by the toil engaged.  Medical conditions tend to do that — whether in trying to conceal it from ourselves by downplaying and minimizing the pain and loss of flexion, motion, movement or other numbness of feeling involved, or by attempting to hide it from others, such as employers, family or even friends who show some modicum of concern.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are trying desperately to cling on to their jobs in the Federal Sector or the U.S. Postal service, the fatigue of hiding can be overwhelming.  The factual state of affairs often defeats the continuing attempt to minimize and hide: the extent of LWOP having been used; FMLA already exhausted, and it isn’t even a new quarter; the piles of work being left unattended; and those furtive glances that are no longer established through suspicions of whispers and gossip, but clear rumblings of a Federal Agency that is moving to reprimand, warn, place on a PIP or propose removal based upon non-attendance or excessive use of Sick Leave; these are all clear indicators that the fatigue of hiding can no longer be further delayed.

Preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee believes that the future still holds some hope for remaining at the Federal or Postal job, is an important first step in acknowledging that the fatigue of hiding has come to a critical juncture that necessitates a step beyond hiding it — it is the time of reckoning where the effort wasted upon concealment needs now to be turned into a positive step towards securing one’s future by preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, so that the fatigue of hiding can be turned back into that productive person of greater vitality you once were, and of whom everyone else once knew.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Employee Disability: Casting caution aside

Does it count if you didn’t mean it that way, but others perceive that you did?  If you do X but intend Y, but others think that your X was intended as X, is it still valid?  And how does validity work, here — is it only if you declare to the world what your intentions were in the first place, or if you smile slyly and keep your inner intentions a secret, does it still count as “valid”?

Isn’t that ultimately what we are afraid of when we act upon something — that someone will think one way and we want them to think another, or otherwise there is some lack of correspondence between truth and the thoughts within?

When we are casting caution aside and others warn us of our impetuosity, do we pause and care to “correct the record” because we worry about what others might think?  Isn’t that one of the underlying reasons why Federal and Postal workers fail to initiate the process of preparing, formulating and filing 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?

We avoid that “tag” that everyone abhors — of a “malingerer” within the ranks.  Too much sick leave taken; not quite at the productive levels we once had a reputation for; excessive LWOP; constantly having appointments at the doctor’s office; and, suddenly, we believe that others are “staring” at us, judging us, whispering behind our backs.  Are they?  Or is it just my imagination running amok and creating a surreal universe of misperceived paranoia?

We become cautious, tentative, unsure of ourselves, wondering what our coworkers and supervisors are thinking.

Casting caution aside is not always an act of unthinking impetuosity or even of a gambler’s mindset. For, when a medical condition is involved, the only issue that matters is one of prioritizing one’s health, and preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application is often the best option available, and while others may consider the process as another pathway in casting caution aside, they simply do not know what you have endured, suffered and gone through before coming to such an important decision.

In the end, the universe of the subjective can never be judged by the mere appearances of the objective, and one’s opinion concerning the health of another cannot be valid without first experiencing the medical condition of the person suffering.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Disability Retirement Representation: Hope springs

“Eternal”, of course, is the ending and attachment that most would declare if asked to fill in the blank.  How many of us know of the origin of the statement, what it means, from whence it comes (yes, yes, a Google search is only one finger button away)?  It is often an afterthought – a “throw-away” line that one scatters about in response to someone else’s statement about “hoping to do X” or having “hope that X will happen”.

The reactionary response that is commonly stated is, “Well, of course hope springs eternal.”   The origin of the saying comes from Alexander Pope’s work, “An Essay on Man”, where he wrote:

Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
Man never is, but always to be blest.
The soul, uneasy and confined from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

What was he referring to?  It could be interpreted in many ways – of a reference to a life hereafter and the reason for living, struggling and being tormented in this life, with a view towards an eternal reward; or, that so long as there is hope, things will change for the better if you just stick around long enough.

Without hope, the devastation of life’s turmoil may never allow for a person to get beyond this day; it is with hope that is kept in the human breast that the eternal promise of a better tomorrow becomes possible; for, otherwise there is just fatalism to look forward to, or as Pope stated, a state of existence where “Man never is”.

The word-pictures evoked from Pope’s work are beautifully put, and provide images that allows for multiple interpretations.  The word “springs” is a carefully chosen word, for it gives the idea both of calm (as in the tranquility of a running spring) as well as a jump forward (as in “spring forward”), and thus establishes multiple meanings when tied to the reference point of “hope”.

Hope, ultimately, is the ingredient that allows for life to live for a future yet undetermined and yet to be defined.  That is what is important for Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition is beginning to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job.  For, what other hope is there than Federal Disability Retirement benefits?

As the ongoing medical condition and the deteriorating aspect of the medical condition begins to squeeze out any hope left; and the impact it is having on one’s career and future starts to question the viability of any hope to be had; it is hope from X to Y – i.e., a future with a difference – that allows for hope to foster and thrive.

That is why, for the Federal or Postal employee who recognizes that hope in continuing in one’s job is no longer a reality, it becomes important to consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, precisely because hope springs eternal.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Disability Retirement: As life passes by

It seems to come and go imperceptibly; we barely notice; then, one day, we wake up and life has passed by; the past is now an elongated prism through which we judge the remainder of our lives; the present is but the despair we feel because of wasted time allowed to blur beyond into a vestige of forgotten winds; and the future remains as the uncertainty we quivered about before we grew up.

As life passes by, we try and justify; for, language is the means by which we can validate ourselves.  Now, more than ever, it is the gymnast in linguistic contortions that seems to get the most attention, gain the greatest advantage and squeeze out the momentous timelessness.  Look at Facebook, Twitter, and all other social media forums; objectively, it is merely a blank screen where the one-dimensional universe of words and grammatical outbursts are annotated; yet, that is how the self-esteem of the greater society determines worth, relevance and significance.

All the while, however, there are real people with genuine problems, feelings quashed, personalities unnoticed and greatness tethered, that sit in corners of the world awaiting for recognition of singular episodes of kindness and accomplishments.  We can focus too much on ourselves; attend to updating Facebook too often; engage the limited characters of Twitter and worry unceasingly around circles of our own self-importance, and all the while, as life passes by, we remain ensconced in the limited subjectivity of the universe within our own minds.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers 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 the Federal or Postal job, the danger is that you can continue struggling as life passes by, and not attend to your medical conditions in the very “doing” of daily activities as life passes by, worrying about tomorrow and the next day as life “passes by”, and wasting the time left as the elongated past disappears into the lost memories, like those graveyards that litter the countryside forgotten and overgrown with ivy and sagebrush that obscures the memories of the dead and dying.

Filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, may not be the answer to all of life’s problems, but for the Federal or Postal employee who must get beyond the impact of the medical condition upon the ability and capacity to extend one’s Federal career, it is nevertheless an important component in now allowing important moments – like properly attending to one’s health – as life passes by.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Attorney Representation Federal Disability Retirement: Law’s efficacy

When is “the law” effective?  Especially when speaking about an administrative procedure such as filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset – what role does “the law” play in its procedural and substantive aspects?

Multiple distinctions are made on a daily basis with respect to the law’s efficacy; whether something is “legal” or not does not always mean that it is enforceable, for the costs associated may be prohibitively expensive.  To have a “legal right” does not always mean that one should necessarily assert it, for there may be practical considerations that come into play before moving forward with applying that which is rightfully existent.

Further, the mere fact that the law may be “on the books” may not necessarily mean that a society will always raise it up from the dead and apply it; for, as customs and normative constraints alter, modify and become transformed by evolution of thought, it may well be that dogs best left sleeping are the ones who are never bothered.

In Administrative Law – which Federal Disability Retirement issues are a part of – there is always the question as to what role, significant, relevant or somewhat in between, “the law” plays, as many steps throughout the procedure and process must deal with non-lawyers who have no clue as to the existence, force or applicability of legal matters.

Thus, should the “Bruner Presumption” be argued at the initial stage of a Federal Disability Retirement application even though the administrative specialist who is reviewing the Federal Disability Retirement application may have no clue about its impact, doesn’t much care and will likely not give much thought to its contextual relevance?

Does Bracey v. OPM matter when discussing the finer points of issues pertaining to accommodations and reassignment, or is that merely some esoteric legal argument that should be reserved for the Third Stage of the process, if and when a Federal Disability Retirement application is denied twice (both at the Initial Stage of the process, as well as at the Second, Reconsideration Stage) and is appealed to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board and comes before an Administrative Judge?

Should Simpkins versus OPM always be argued for Veterans with Service-connected ratings, no matter what the ratings are comprised of?

The law’s efficacy is ultimately determined not necessarily by the quantitative bombardment of effective methodological argumentation, but by the qualitative selectiveness of who to argue to, when to argue and for what purpose.  In the end, law’s efficacy is a strategic component that may determine the successful or otherwise outcome of a Federal Disability Retirement application, and should be considered thoughtfully and with great preparation.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


PM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Those goals

What constitutes a worthwhile goal?  Is it determined by the outcome – i.e., a retrospective, outcome-based proposal, as opposed to the gambling one where one must enter into the dangerous waters not knowing what the future provides?  Are we so safely ensconced in life’s predictability such that we will not longer accept as a goal that which cannot be ascertained unless and until there is some guarantee?

Do people immediately criticize and diminish the stated goal by categorizing it as either “realistic” or “unrealistic”?  Is there a distinction with a difference between “dreams” and “goals”, where the former is unbounded and unfettered by the reality of expectations, whereas the latter must be confined to that which can be reasonably ascertained as achievable?

What of the child who “dreams” of becoming a major league baseball player – do we cite the statistical odds against it, even at the tender age of 5?  What if the child works diligently and shows some promise – daily exercises, practices at every aspect of the game, and joins this league or that and shows “promise” and “potential” – at what point do we advise him (or her) to give up and “become realistic”?

Are some dreams okay to retain and have despite any semblance of “reality” intervening to make them come true – like secretly wanting to be a novelist (even though not a single page, let alone one sentence, has been put on paper) or a pro basketball player (even if you are 5’ 3”, and certainly no Muggsy Bogues), just because it makes one “feel good” or allow for self-confidence by carrying a secretive self-image that one is not what one truly appears to be?

At what point do dreams become goals, and goals merely dreams?  Is it when you actually take a “concrete” step towards making a dream become a reality, that then you have a goal, because the latter is “achievable” while the former is not?  Or is it like that old Chinese proverb that Kennedy liked to recite (or was becoming a writer for John F. Kennedy merely a “dream” and that is why Ted Sorensen, his ghost writer, is the one who did all the writing that the former President merely dreamed about?), that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step?

Or, perhaps like the Federal or Postal worker who suffers 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 position with the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, the goal is to become healthy again – or is it merely a dream?

Dream or goal, for the Federal or Postal worker trying to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be reviewed and determined by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, like the potential baseball star or the best power forward in the business of pro basketball, the first step is the most important – of realizing dreams into goals, and goals into realistic dreams, whichever may be the case.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire