Federal & Postal Medical Retirement: The rabbits we chase

The rabbits we chase are the ones that reveal not so much about our preferences, but more about who we are and the priorities we place.  For, as one walks about in life, whether in suburban neighborhoods where rabbits abound because no one shoots them for meals, anymore, and so they can multiply without natural restrictions for lack of predators, the fact that there are other things to pursue — but instead we choose the rabbit — tells others something about you.

Of course, it is the proverbial rabbit we speak about — of work at all cost, of refusing to concede that which is quite obvious to everyone else.

Much of real rabbit hunting, of course, is done by knowledge and pure observation — of how the animal reacts; in scurrying away, what route does it take?  What avoidance tactics are engaged?  In suburbia, you can no longer shoot a rabbit within the confines of the city limits, but there is no law that prevents you from doing what the American Indians were so good at — chasing one down, swooping with a strong arm and grabbing those pointed ears, all for a good lunchtime meal.

But of the other “rabbits” we pursue — of careers at the cost of our health, of tangential distractions that ultimately provide no foundational meaning in determining the destiny of sanctified thoughts and goals.

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 one’s Federal or Postal job, chasing rabbits is a familiar refrain — not because it is being done in various acts of futility, but because the rabbit itself is not just any ordinary rabbit, and doesn’t follow the standard paradigm of “rabbit-hood”.

For, it becomes clear that the very nature of the rabbit has changed — the Agency no longer recognizes that your years of toil and loyalty should mean anything; coworkers whisper and spread gossip; the level of productivity is declining; you are using “too much” Sick Leave or LWOP; the rabbit you are chasing doesn’t quite act in the same way, and you begin to wonder, Is it even worth pursuing?

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit that is there for the Federal or Postal employee who has finally come to the realization that not every rabbit is worth pursuing, and not every rabbit leads to a satisfying meal.  Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is likely the next best step in catching the rabbit of choice.  Now, for which rabbit hole to jump into …


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: The distant bark

A lone dog barks in the distance.  We cannot determine where, or even from what direction, but the echo of wailing, sometimes of whimpering, reverberates like a mist in the early morning that quietly pervades but can never be grasped.  Perhaps it persists, and we leave the safety of our own home in search of the cry, as the forlorn sounds made wavers between a spectrum of hurt, pain, loneliness or urgency of need; no matter the reason, the bark is desperate.

We begin the journey in one direction, but suddenly the winds of voices heard shifts, and we believe it may be coming from a completely different direction.  We shift course and walk in the exact opposite direction. The barking continues, now with greater tones of reverberating alarm, drifting from over there, somewhere out there, never to be determined.  The barking stops.  You pause, listen; but only the quietude of the midnight air breaks the stillness of the echo that now sounds within one’s imagination.

You begin to doubt yourself; was it my own fears, my own fantasy?  Did the sound ever break upon the dawn of objective reality, or was it something that originated from deep within my own needs and wants?  You go home.  Then, a few minutes later, after turning off the lights and drifting off into the slumber of night’s call, a lone dog barks in the distance.

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, that Federal or Postal employee is the distant bark, and the help that never arrives reflects the situation that so often describes the events that unfold.  Federal Disability Retirement, as the analogy may be stretched, is the person who reaches out to try and find the source of the barking.  Failing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is the metaphor where the searching man and the barking dog never meet.

Federal Disability Retirement is not just another “benefit” or a “give-away”; rather, it is part of the employment package that the Federal or Postal worker signed on to, and once obtained, allows for the Federal or Postal worker who is on disability retirement to pursue other careers and vocations, and more importantly, to focus upon regaining one’s health in the process by being separated from the work that has become problematic in the meantime.

And like the lone dog that barks in the distance, the Federal or Postal employee who fails to take the next step by not preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, will end up like the dog that wails pitifully deep into the recesses of midnight regrets.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Dreams quashed

It has a ring of finality to it, a tone of termination, a quake of unequivocal endings; to extinguish, to suppress or to stamp out; it is often used as an example of some authoritative juggernaut putting down and out a rebellion by some wayward bandits; and so when it is conjoined and combined with another word – one that denotes hope for the future, a flicker of light for something positive – that has a positive connotation, it becomes an oxymoron of sorts, or a compound concept that cancels out one another.

The first word allows for a future hope and anticipation of things yet to come; the second, a denial of the first, a negation of that which one lives for.  Dreams quashed is an admission of defeat where once victory was in hand; a resignation to the reality where warmth of hope yet remained; and a bowing to a reality where the subjective universe perhaps allowed for thoughts beyond that which the objective world would dictate.

The compound concept of dreams quashed, when applied to a young soul just starting out in life, is perhaps a tragedy; as one gets older and reaches towards the dusk of life, or of the old man in a rocking chair rocking the finals days of breath away into the sunset, perhaps less so.  Yet, for everyone, whether young, old or in-between, dreams constitute the fiber of life’s worth, the filament that connects between despair and a will to move forward.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent, impede and block the ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, the recognition that a career may be coming to an end, and anticipation of that “dream job” one finally obtained after college, and the realization that the camaraderie of working on a team, of having a unified purpose and a singular mission that always moved towards the future, to fulfill mini-dreams and projects that leaped into the beyond such that tomorrow was worth living and the next day was an anticipated victory of some proportions, perhaps microscopically relative to the greater universe, but nonetheless a platform that reflected upon one’s self-worth; these constitute those very “dreams” that appear to be in danger of being “quashed”.

Sometimes, however, the dreams of yesteryear need to be adjusted, such that it is not truly a quashing, but merely a modification.

Federal Disability Retirement is a recognition not of a dream quashed, but of a priority realized – that health is not always a given in life, and that which we took for granted was never to be freely accepted, but a gift received by a token of one’s sense of mortality.  Dreams quashed are merely hopes deceived, and preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the applicant is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is to merely delay the inevitability of another dream revived but perhaps left forgotten in the rush to make a living.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The changing straw

The “straw that broke the camel’s back” is a known idiom that essentially reveals to us the last in the series of incidents or actions that cumulatively result in the destruction of the whole.  What in the series preceding the last straw; of what weight and import; to what significance may be attributable, we rarely focus upon; it is the last one in the series that we focus our attention upon, precisely because we assume that it is the causal connection to the event that conclusively occurs with a finality of actions.

Yet, as Hume would point out, the fact that a “final straw” placed upon the camel’s back resulted in the next event following, does not establish a causation where that final straw was in fact the cause before the effect.  It merely shows us that X occurred prior to Y’s conclusion.  If a rooster awakens and makes his morning call and the sun rises upon the horizon, and thereafter an earthquake shakes the foundation of the planet, do we conclude that the rooster was the final straw, or that the rising of the sun “caused” the tectonic shifts beneath?

No – the idiom itself, of course, is not meant to be analyzed in that manner; rather, it is a “saying” that merely denotes that, upon a series of events, issues or actions, there comes a boiling point of finality where enough is enough.  But the evolution of societal norms does, indeed, allow for the straw to change over time.

Once upon a time, people “stuck it out” and remained married – if only to keep one’s vows, or for the “sake of the children”, or perhaps some other noble purpose.  Now, the “straw” that results in a divorce has changed – it can range from “failing to communicate” or even because one spouse has gotten bored of the other.  With that changing straw, people tend to tread lightly, given the low threshold of tolerance.  Law is somewhat like the changing straw – perhaps not the substance (although that can change through legislative action), but certainly the application.

For Federal or Postal employees 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, the issue to always be kept at the forefront is the changing straw throughout – what is the “straw” at work which will help make the decision?  What “last straw” is needed before the cumulative effects of the medical conditions persuade you to realize the need to file?  What “straw” of the law needs to be applied to persuade as to the viability of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application?

There are many “last straws” in life, and much of them change as time goes on; the law, however, remains fairly constant, except for the “last straw” of legal opinions that often alter the landscape of substance and applicability.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Of other’s misery

It may give one a sense of short-term satisfaction; sort of like Chinese carry-out, it satisfies for an hour or so, then seems to lose its efficacy for fulfillment.  Whereas, there are other foods that tend to last for greater time; and so it is with receiving news or information of other’s misery.  It certainly allows for a comparison of sorts; of tilting balances imagined, or even for contrasting accomplishments forsaken, dreams yet unfulfilled or misery unabated.

Of other’s misery – we condescend, conceal our delight and contend that we care and “feel terribly”; in other words, we sit and do nothing about it, even if we were able to.  Oh, we give the proper lip-service, of course: “How terrible”; “What a shame”; “What can one do?”  But all the while, inside, we whisper in soliloquys that harbor those feelings of secretive annoyances that say, “Thank goodness it is the other guy,” and begin to take an inventory of relief and comparative analysis of how best to take advantage of the situation.

Is that too cynical a viewpoint?  Does Machiavelli live within all of us?  Perhaps not to the extent described.  Then, what of other’s misery?  At a minimum, it provides a contrast and places us in a state of reality that says, Maybe our situation is not so bad after all.  Contentment by contrast of balancing the misery of others, however, is no way to live.

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 one’s Federal or Postal job, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the key to preparing a successful and effective Federal Disability Retirement application to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is not by comparing the content of other’s misery, but by a direct creation of a nexus between one’s own medical condition and the essential elements of one’s position description.

Forget the instinctively wrong-headed approach of asking, “Well, does X-medical condition qualify if so-and-so had the same condition and was still able to work?” Or: “There are others more bad off than I am, so…”  So what?  Federal Disability Retirement is a specific legal basis that requires specificity as to individual circumstances.  It is irrelevant as to issues of other’s misery; it is one’s own that one must focus upon.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Regarding dogs and books

They are the two default positions to happiness, loneliness and sorrowful days that can only be solved along with a cup of hot chocolate.  What is amazing and somewhat perplexing is that, as to the former, the very fact that one species of life can have such a close and interacting relationship with another existent species is an incomprehensible truism steeped in beauty.

History has established that people and dogs maintain a unique synchronism that goes beyond mere parallel existence.  We can walk among birds and hear them chirping; jog past a rabbit that freezes, then scurries away; and even have a suspicious but interactive peace accord with squirrels, cats and gerbils; but of a dog that awaits your every move and watches with loyal love, there is a special relationship and bond that can never be described by words alone.

As to the other elements in the twin concepts of the title above, what can one say?  Books are the products created by the uniqueness of language; the compendium of complexities amalgamated by first a letter, then a word, then words within sentences that elongate into paragraphs; then, slowly, page by page, they form to create a work – of fiction, non-fiction, a mixture of both, either or neither as in crime novels, “true life” extracts and the admixtures of imagination, images, memory and reminiscences.

Books allow for loneliness to dissipate when betrayal and disloyalty have reared their ugly heads; when backstabbers and plain meanness whips the urns of ashes deadened with ancestral grief upon a rainy night of groans and tears wept upon what could have been; and then we can get lost in a good book and feel the air being disturbed by the wagging tail of a dog so loyal.

Regarding dogs and books – there is no replacement for such a duality of life’s mystery.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition may necessitate filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the feeling that the “world” has betrayed because the Federal agency or Postal Service is unwilling to accommodate and “work with” your medical condition is a true enough fact; but don’t let that fact of disloyalty dissuade you from recognizing that there are still entities out there who remain loyal – like your dog (if you own one; and if you don’t, you should get one).

And also remember that the goal of getting OPM Disability Retirement benefits is tantamount to reading a good book – it allows you to reorient yourself and regain the proper perspective by allowing you to focus upon the priorities of life – of your own health.

People often think that life is complex beyond endurance these days; but in the end, a loyal dog and a good book are about all that one needs to attain happiness – and, of course, one’s health, which is the primary reason why fighting for one’s Federal Disability Retirement is important, so that you can focus upon maintaining your health, so that you can sit with a good book beside a loyal dog: the key ingredients to ecstatic joy itself.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Little battles fought

It is the minor skirmishes of life that maintain the vitality of everyday existence; they are fought in preparation for the greater battles and campaigns.  That is why a ‘strategy’ is important; otherwise, taking the same hill countless times in a day leads one to wonder what the greater plan is.  For, futility and the sense of meaninglessness are what defeat any motivation to continue.  Incentives for advancement; a sense of growth and an optimism for the future; these and other values are what one fights for, engages in skirmishes, and those little battles that are fought with a worthwhile sense of gaining something.

Medical conditions, especially of a chronic kind, tend to diminish the will to fight.  They not only weaken and debilitate; they begin to eat away at any sense of accomplishment and striving for those valued goals.  It is, in the end, a sense of hope for which we all fight the little battles fought; otherwise, the major wars would fail to be worthwhile.

Medical conditions are the “unfair” factor in any war, sort of like roadside bombs planted in this new war of hit-and-run attacks.  They often come upon one slowly; and whether in a sudden, traumatic event or evidencing a slow progression of debilitation and subtle changes over a period of days and months, the insidiousness of not knowing how to battle it, of doctors telling of being patient, of medications themselves sometimes having worsening side effects that complicate, exacerbate and exponentially magnify in frequency, severity and other realms of wounds endured – these all cumulatively combine to create a sense of frustration like fighting an enemy you cannot see and will never be able to actually “fight” in the traditional sense.

That is why preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is an important step in those “little battles fought” – for, unless the little ones are taken care of, the large ones that loom ahead may not be properly engaged in.

Reorganizing priorities; focusing upon one’s health; determining the future course of relevancy; these are all part of the metaphorical battles to be fought, but for the individual who experiences the medical condition and specifically for the Federal or Postal employee who must consider filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, they are no less real than the sudden devastation of a roadside bomb exploding beneath one’s Humvee.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire