OPM Medical Retirement: The Process of Decision-making

Have you ever wondered how decisions are made?  What is the process, and who determines whether or not the methodology engaged is the “right” one or the “wrong” one?  What data is analyzed?  How is the evaluative input assessed, and to what extent does “missing” information impact the process?

On a spectrum of decision-making, there is on the lower side of an imaginary graph the “process” of choosing a flavor of ice cream.  Most would agree that it is based upon a purely subjective, appetitive basis, where the foundation of the process of decision-making (if you can even call it that on such a rudimentary level) is based upon one’s taste for a particular flavor, and whether or not one has a present desire for the intended food.

Can other factors come into play?  Of course – for example, say you just read an informative article that all flavors in category X contain a carcinogenic compound, however slight in volume, that over time may cause harm, whereas all other flavors (“Category Y”) are exempted and are considered “safe”.

Now, how much of that data enters into the decision-making process of choosing the ice cream flavor?  For, in order for such information to enter into the equation, one must first engage in the prior decision-making process upon the article itself – i.e., is it factual or does it contain unfounded opinions?  How “scientific” is the evidence?  Does the author have a conflict of interest – i.e., is he being paid for writing the article, and by whom?  Perhaps the author works for the industry that produces all Flavors Y and wants to advance a competitive edge over all Flavors X by harming or destroying, or placing seeds of doubt into the minds of customers who might consider those other flavors?

Placing weight and credibility upon the article itself must first involve a process of decision-making; then, even after such a judgment on the information received, how much of it will impact upon the decision-making process of choosing a flavor of ice cream?  One might conclude, for example, that the article on carcinogenic ingredients is pure bosh and disregard it – but even in that instance, if you chose the category of Flavors Y, can you ever be sure that you discarded it completely, or perhaps in your subconscious mind you attached your allegiance out of fear and caution?  How will you ever know?

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, the process of decision-making in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application can be a complex and complicated one.

One’s future is involved; one’s investment in a career; the health concerns, the deteriorating capacity to continue in one’s chosen line of work, and the increasing difficulty of hiding the medical condition – all, and so much more, must be considered before initiating the process of a Federal Disability Retirement application.

With all of this in mind, of the jumble of information and the complexity of the process itself, the best and first step is to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement law, in order to gain a balanced perspective, receive all of the necessary information, and to begin to gather the foundational data necessary in order to ultimately make the “right” decision in the process.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Meaning of life

Most of us are too busy to pause for air, reflect upon theoretical, hypothetical or philosophical issues that have little to do with day-to-day living or earning wages in order to maintain a certain standard of living.  Every now and then, however, when the tumults of life’s encounters reaches a pinnacle of unsolvable problems such that the stressors exceed the barometric pressure allowable for the human psyche to withstand, there is a compelled stoppage, a mandated cessation and a forced condemnation to rest.

It is, in short, called a “medical condition”.

It is when we become debilitated, destroyed, distraught and disillusioned that we begin to ask such universal, exhaustive and unnatural (by this term is meant with a rhetorical question:  What other animal in nature asks such questions, and thus do we posit them as “unnatural”) to the core queries that, as Bertrand Russell once wittily quipped, is likely the result of indigestion.

What do we mean when we ask such questions; of looking up at the ceiling with furrowed eyebrows and inquiring, “What is the meaning of all of this?”  It is, of course, the focal point of “this” that one must then turn to, for such a word is obscure, undefined and like a blank space to be filled, can be interpreted in an eternity of ways depending upon the context of the query.

Is the “this” referring to the pain, suffering and debilitating medical condition being experienced?  Is it about the “unfairness” of it all and the fact that others seem to be roaming this earth carefree, careless and thoughtless as to one’s pain, whether physical, emotional or cognitive?  Or does the “this” reference the connection of all of that striving, the hours and commitment to work – of a loyalty to a Federal Agency or the Postal Service who cares not about your medical condition, may not have even noticed your absence (at least for the time being until someone finally notices the pile of work backing up on the desk of that…what was her name?) and likely thinks of individuals as mere cogs in a wheel, replaceable and fungible.

In the end, Russell was probably right; such questions about the “meaning of life” are beyond the comprehension of any level of rationality, belief or coherency that has any real impact upon our lives to make a true difference.  What really matters, in the end, is not that “philosophical” query about the meaning of life, but about human contact, relationships, and securing a future for ourselves and our families.

To that end, preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset is an important next step for the Federal or Postal employee who can no longer continue in the career position of his or her choice.  For, filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application actually does answer the question, “What is the meaning of ______”; it may not be the grand concept of “life” itself that completes that blank, but it sure beats walking away with nothing by obtaining an annuity to secure one’s future so that other things in life may be enjoyed.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Disability Retirement from Federal Government Employment: The Well-Digger’s Daughter

It is a French film directed by Daniel Auteuil, and depicts an age just before, during, and after the First World War, when rural life still embraced a contempt for modern values, and the pastoral context defined the the quietude of family life yet unblemished but for private shame of family secrets.  It is in the title itself which reveals much; for, there is no independence of a person’s name, and the underlying theme throughout encapsulates the right to a surname, the identity of an individual, and how the interconnectedness of one’s essence, being and substantive community is itself defined by the proper ascription of who we are related to, how, and by what legitimacy.

It is, in that sense, outdated and “old fashioned”; for, in modernity, we cast no aspersions when it comes to heredity, lineage and source of being, anymore.  But the historical context reflects the time of its relevancy; here, names matter; formal acknowledgement of marital unions within a community of acceptance and celebration are expected; and the child who comes into this world must be identified by the proper surname through label of sacrament.  At the outset, the title itself reveals much; for, we immediately note that it is not the name of a person, but an identity within the context of a family lineage.

In this day and age, names are no more important than the identification of inanimate objects; relational identities have been cast aside; we are known, each of us, by the names we have been given, have shed and taken on in rebellious denial of former connections, or so easily abandon and recreate, like so many pseudonyms used on the technology of our former selves.  But try as we might, somehow the haunting connections seem to matter; otherwise, how else to explain the persistent cries of orphans and abandoned children to search and discover who their parents are, and to open up sealed court documents to embrace identities formerly unknown?

Is it a mere mirage and vestige of an antiquated mutation, where the genetic lineage served to fulfill Darwin’s fantasy of survival of the fittest, somehow misinterpreted by one’s cellular make-up to include direct inheritance of a particular DNA?  And why is the language so precise and important?  Would the story have been any different if it had been titled, say, “The Girl who wore a pink bonnet”?  The narrative could still have remained; but, somehow, by merely identifying the character by what she wore, is not the same as to whom she is related to, of how she is named, and by what relationship her being is connected.

Words — and names — matter.   Identifying the proper relationships, and the context of connectedness, all together form the “wholeness” of a coherent narrative.

That is why, in preparing and formulating a Federal Disability Retirement application, it is important to coordinate the medical documentation with the Applicant’s Statement of Disability; the Applicant’s Statement of Disability with any legal arguments to be made and cited; and any legal arguments with both the medical documentation and the Applicant’s Statement of Disability.  For, each are not mere separate codifications of independent entities unrelated to the other; together, they form a compendium of a cogent narrative, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset; and when such force of coherence is submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it heightens the statistical favoritism for an initial approval.

And, like the Well-Digger’s Daughter, we must always remember that the interconnectedness of life, living, and the essence of everything around, is defined not merely in our individual capacities, but by the sacredness of who we present ourselves to be.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement Benefits: That oppressive air

There are circumstances in life when the environment becomes so intolerable, that one just has an inkling to “chuck it all” and walk away.  Fortunately, the human animal possesses a measure of self-discipline and restraint; although, looking at the excesses of the world around us, one would never know it.  If you watch and read the news, one would logically conclude that the world around us is falling apart and disintegrating at the seams.  If you hermetically seal one’s life and shut down all communication devices, happiness may well abound in the bliss of ignorance, but you will be deemed to be either mad or uncouth.  That is, in fact, what the ad agencies wanted us to believe, wasn’t it?

The term of modernity has been “connectivity”; everywhere you go, it is essential to life’s essence to remain in communication through various electronic devices and systems; portable “hot spots” had to be maintained, and even roadside motels got into the swing of things by posting neon signs which first touted a low price for an internet connection; then, later, when the foundational economic principles of supply and demand forced a steep decline in pricing wars, a mere announcement that free WiFi was available replaced the spectacle of flashing signs touting those strange numbers, such as “$19.95” or “$9.99”, as if we were ordering a family meal at Denny’s as opposed to maintaining that vaunted “connectivity” (what an ugly word!) for our various electronic devices.

If I had been paid a dollar for every device and newfangled invention that delivered the advertised promise of allowing me greater “freedom” and “saving more time” in order to do those things which one never has time to do, we would all have retired to gated communities in wealth, luxury and comfort.  Instead, it seems that technology, the constant barrage of information and the heightened level of stress seems to compound the problem; and with a collective sigh, one may ascribe the generic term of that “oppressive air” to describe the state of malaise in which we find ourselves.

Such generalized pressures of life are further exacerbated for the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who must contend with the added difficulties of 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 positional duties.  Fortunately, for the Federal or Postal employee, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, there is a Federal benefit to be applied for — Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

The process itself can be described as onerous and a maze of bureaucratic complexities, confounded by administrative ineptitude of an unquantifiable degree; but in comparison to that oppressive air which the Federal or Postal employee must endure at the hands of an increasingly hostile Federal agency or U.S. Postal Service — one that never seems to tolerate the disabled, infirm or otherwise “unfit for duty” — filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is often the preferred option, especially if connectivity to some semblance of future financial security remains an important component of life’s growing anomalies.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Disability Retirement: The Consequence of Indecision

Why is it that some are able to make thoughtful decisions within a relatively short span of time, while others are paralyzed by indecision?  Is it purely a reflection of that — of “thoughtfulness” as opposed to lack of thought?  Or, perhaps because some have already predetermined the applicable criteria which is immediately instituted, like placing a window frame upon a hole in the wall, thereby capturing the stillness of scenery ensconced in a timeless warp of alternative displays?  Is it important to have set up a “criteria” upon which characteristic distinctions can be made, separated, identified, then dissected for evaluative reduction such that the proverbial chaff can be separated from the wheat?

Recognition that some decisions are based purely upon appetitive criteria — such as choosing a meal from a menu — as opposed to selecting a college to study at, a career to enter, a job opportunity to consider; what is the applicable criteria to help frame the issues to be questioned, inquired into, resolved?  And where do values come in — belief systems, what one holds dear, whether there are normative cultural pressures to consider, and the moral caveat which precedes the judgment of friends, family and relatives?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, at what point does the Federal or Postal employee consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management?  is it when you finally drop dead?  Is it when you become so debilitated that you cannot make it into the office any longer?  Do you destroy your body, soul and psyche in order to prove a point of loyalty?

Fortunately, the law itself helps to frame the decision-making process.  As OPM Disability Retirement requires that certain age and time in-service criteria be met, and further, that the Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties,  some of the work necessary to “make a decision” has already been initiated in an “objective” manner.

In the end, however, even the child who first enters an ice cream shop and realizes that the world is not bifurcated into simplistic binary systems of “either-or”, but presents a multitude of endless summers of nuanced pathways to ecstatic completion, who must ultimately point to, and choose, between alternative compasses which will navigate one into the future of one’s contentedness, or dark chasms of dismay.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Medical Retirement: Predictable Pantomimes

Most of life is simply lived.  One engages, works, plans, deliberates, initiates, completes chores, gets up in the morning, goes to bed at night, etc.  Little reflection or thought is required; much of it, like an automaton on a conveyor belt of cursory convenience, requires but mere human movement.

Perhaps in the mythological State of Nature, as described by Rousseau or Locke, the predatory environment creating a necessity of alertness just to survive, required greater cognitive involvement; or, as a corollary, an utopian condition of peace and tranquil coexistence with other forces of nature.  It is when one pauses for a brief moment, reflects, and has a sudden awareness of one’s self in the presence of others, that the very knowledge of acting within the confines and context of “doing”, becomes a consciousness of self-realization.

Self-awareness — that level of consciousness beyond mere recognition of one’s surroundings, but involving a direct acuteness of “being” but simultaneously “being in the world”, is what makes for human uniqueness.

Heidegger tried to describe it through linguistic mechanisms which turned out to be beyond the common realm of understanding or comprehension, and thus became relegated to the esoteric halls of academia.  Sartre and Camus attempted to capture it through fictional depictions, and indeed, it was more the texture of the novel, The Stranger, than the actual words, which came closest to successful conveyance of the experience of the absurd.

For the daily person, medical conditions tend to starkly bring out the reality of the experience.  Medical conditions suddenly reveal one’s vulnerability, and the fragile nature of one’s being.  Mortality becomes a reality beyond mere distance-reflection of some unknown future intent; it becomes the freshness of the now for a being within a body of decay.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who suddenly realizes that life, career, future and the boredom of constancy can be but a moment in time because of an impending medical condition which threatens one’s security and livelihood, 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, becomes a reality of immediacy, precisely because of the urgency of the medical condition upon one’s life and livelihood.

Suddenly, the priority of “being” presents itself.  What one did before the crisis of vulnerability was merely a predictable pantomime; the reality of life and the significance of relationships becomes the true being of living.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits may seem like a mere act of administrative convenience, but for many, it becomes the avenue of necessity in order to deal with the reality of illness, disability, and medical urgency.  And, as with all aspects of life and being, other predictable pantomimes will become apparent:  the agency’s hostile reaction; the looks of suspicion from others; unfriendly attitudes displayed by coworkers and supervisors; they are all merely actors on a larger stage, but yet to realize that “being” and “being-in-the-world” are one and the same, when tragedies befall and humanity acknowledges the fragile nature of life, like the soft petal from a dying flower which drifts soundlessly upon the earthen dust from which we were born, and to which we return.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Medical Retirement: The Deeper Recesses of Unwanted Caricatures

Caricatures often depict an exaggerated degree of undesirable characteristics, whether for comic effect or sleaze of meanness.  The totality of the person or entity described is rarely the reality of the grotesque aggregate of the negative characteristics, but one can still see the relative truth of validation in the aspects shown.

Such caricatures, too, can be either internal or external; the latter being the depiction from the perspective of someone “other”; the former comprised of the totality of one’s self-image, how one projects from the perspective of the other, and the reflective thoughts of one’s self.  When others describe one in caricature form, you may laugh, but inwardly shy with horror and fright; and in the deeper recesses of one’s privacy, the truth and impact of such unwanted caricatures may pull one into a psychological chasm of despair.

Medical conditions, especially, can exacerbate an already-existent fear and loathing, precisely because they attack and undermine those areas of the physical, emotional and psychological vulnerabilities most open and revealing.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who becomes impacted by a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the unwanted caricatures which frighten and demean are often twofold:  Loss of productivity (resulting in reduction of income), and devaluing of self-worth, both in the eyes of coworkers as well as from the deeper recesses of one’s own perspective.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement may not seem like the perfect solution in dealing with a medical condition, but as this is not an infallible universe, so we must accept the imperfections offered.

The generous parameters promulgated within the legal regulations of obtaining a Federal Disability Retirement, allows for the Federal and Postal worker to entertain a second vocation or career beyond the Federal Disability Retirement annuity (one may earn income in the private sector, up to 80% of what one’s former Federal or Postal salary was, in addition to the Federal Disability Retirement annuity).  More importantly, it allows for the Federal or Postal worker to first and foremost focus upon attending to the medical condition itself, while receiving a base annuity during the crisis point in determining the course of future actions.

Unfortunately, what often holds us back in securing one’s future is not the actual realities of an imperfect universe, but rather, the deeper recesses of one’s perfect world, as depicted in an unrealistic caricature within one’s own imagination, precluding progress where pantomimes may perform.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire