Filing for OPM Disability Retirement: Keys to the universe

When a metaphor turns into a reality that we all begin to believe in, the fantasies of our own making have become distorted and we need to begin the process of regaining the sanity once embraced but which is now lost in the surrealism of time’s warped viewpoint.  It is by simile, analogy and metaphor that one gains a greater understanding of circumstances, fields and subjects, but it is also by such vehicles that we can misplace reality with a virtualized representation of a universe nonexistent.

Sermons abound with metaphors involving a “key” to this or that; or even of those positive thinkers and corporate motivational speakers who talk about the 10-steps to this or that, the “ultimate key to success”, and similar such drivel that makes one think and believe in the existence of a singular implement that needs to find that lost sliver of hope, insert it into the corrugated slit cut into the brass knob that stands between success or failure — and suddenly, the doors unlock, the entranceway is cleared and one can step into the future yet unanticipated by the fullness of contentment.

Do we really believe that there is such a key?  How often do we speak in terms of a metaphor, a simile and an analogy, but over time our spoken words lose the clear distinction that the simile was meant to ascertain?

We begin with: “It is as if there is a key to the universe,” or, “It’s like having the keys to the universe.” Then, gradually, the “as if” and the “like” are dropped, quietly, unnoticed, like the short-cut that assured one of arriving earlier if only the right turn into the thick fields of the wild forest is taken with confidence: “I need the keys to the universe.”

No longer the metaphor, and certainly without the distinctiveness of the simile; the keys become the reality without the padded divide of recognizing that existence cannot be forced to appear in reality; our minds have tricked ourselves into believing.  Then, we often come to realize that the metaphor which purported to “unlock” (a metaphor itself following upon another) whatever it is that we believed was previously inaccessible was nothing more than a mundane process or methodology that we could have figured out ourselves — sort of like (there we go again with a simile) the Master Burglar who spends hours trying to determine the combination to a safe that had all along been left open by a careless bank clerk.

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 under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the “keys to the universe” of obtaining an OPM Disability Retirement are quite simple and straightforward: Prove that the medical condition prevents you from performing one or more of the essential elements of your job.

However, as the devil remains in the details, the simplicity of the metaphorical “key” to a successful outcome is not dissimilar (a double-negative that turns out to mean “similar”, sort of “like” a simile) to most such Keys to the universe: a systematic, methodological compiling of proof combined with legal precedents to cite in presenting a compelling tale to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, such that the “key” is effective enough to “unlock” an approval from them.  Of course, as with all metaphors, the analogy is like the simile that refuses to be like other such metaphors, or so it is often said in the vicious circularity of language’s mysteries.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Down a Rabbit Hole

The phrase originates from the novel by Charles Dodgson (under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll) entitled, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, shortened to “Alice in Wonderland”, and has come to take on a wider meaning — embracing any experience where one unexpectedly encounters a surreal, bizarre universe or phenomena.

The phrase is an interesting one — of somehow entering a different kind of reality where a parallel universe exists.  The rabbit holes of real life are more mundane — of a nest found in one’s back yard where young bunnies huddle together in fear of being discovered, and where hope of survival depends upon people walking by oblivious to the shelter and dogs failing to sniff out the hideouts.

We all walk through life hoping that we can avoid falling down a rabbit hole, and many of us deliberately avoid areas that may be pocked full of them, like so many potholes in roads and bridges that have been left in disrepair.

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 job, the necessity of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be file through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, may be considered tantamount to falling down into a Rabbit Hole.

OPM is a large bureaucracy, complex in its administrative procedures and processes, and the entire journey of preparing, formulating, filing and maneuvering through the Federal Disability Retirement laws, procedures and regulatory morass can be somewhat likened to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland — only, the reality of it is that the surreal universe of the bizarre must meet the universe of necessity, and while the child who reads about Alice can delight in its wonderful tales and adventures, the Federal or Postal worker must live within the reality of a medical condition that remains forever.

That is why, in both cases, falling down into a rabbit hole will often need some expert guidance — like consulting with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law so that the rabbit hole one falls into enhances the chances that the bizarre will ultimately lead to a successful endeavor out of the maze of OPM’s complex processes.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Retirement: Thinking

What constitutes it?  What is the evidence that it was engaged in?  When a person is charged with “premeditation” in the perpetration of a crime, and therefore ascription of full responsibility is used to convict and assign a greater length of incarceration, what methodological intricacies are involved?

Take the following hypothetical:  A man walks into a candy store and grabs a Snicker’s Bar, and runs out of the store without paying for it.  He is nabbed.  At the trial of the matter, the prosecutor gives the following summation to the judge:  “Your honor, this man clearly thought about it.  He entered the store, looked about, and deliberately took the Snicker’s Bar and ran out without paying, knowing that he did not pay it — otherwise, why would be have run?  Indeed, when the police caught him, he yelled, “I was hungry!”  That statement alone shows that the man knew he had not paid for it, for it was an admission of a motive, and thus, it is a clear indication that he thought about stealing it, walked into the store and with criminal intent stole the candy bar.  Only the death penalty would be appropriate for one with such premeditative intent, as he is a danger to society!”

Now, contrast this with the following:  The Candy Store’s automatic door opens, and an animal — a neighborhood dog — saunters in, sniffs about, and no one really notices.  The dog grabs a Snicker’s Bar, gobbles it.  Passersby watch.  The store’s owner notices, laughs, shoos the dog out the door.  Why do we not think that the dog “thought” about it?  Why is “thinking” ascribed to the human being, but not to the animal?  What is it about the actions of the two species that differentiates them?  Does the mere fact that we able able to speak, formulate words and convey thoughts, whether pre-or-post action confirm that any extent of reflective processes occurred?  Is the process of “thinking” always productive — i.e., leads to actions that are fruitful, or is much of it simply an insular activity that results in no great consequence?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are “thinking” about filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the key to “thinking” about it is to take the next step and act upon the thought.  People often think that thinking is a productive activity, so long as it remains active and continuous.  But thought can also negate and prevent, and too much thinking, or not enough, can often become an obstacle to the necessary next step.

In order to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the key to productive thinking is not merely to engage in it as an insular, solitary activity, but to have the consultation and advice of an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement, lest merely thinking about it leads to an unthoughtful act that leads one to believe that the very thinking itself was thoughtless.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Disability Retirement: The language divide

Why is it that language is often so far removed from the living of life?  Was Wittgenstein correct – that it is a distinct world, separate and apart, that really has nothing to do with the “reality” of an “objective” universe?  Was Russell’s cutting quips about the bald King of France a way to point out that the primitive outlook of the traditional correspondence theory of language – that words, concepts, etc. are meant to parallel the objective world “out there” – doesn’t quite fit the proverbial bill, and that we are left with a linguistic universe insularly created and forever divided from the noumenal world that Kant had identified?

Take the following short puzzle that was recently heard: “There are eleven birds sitting on the telephone wire.  A young boy takes a gun and shoots one, and kills it. How many are left on the telephone wire?” Now, the answer to that minor conundrum should be quite elementary, but depends upon how we approach it.

From a mathematical viewpoint, one simply takes the numbers – a purely “theoretical” approach, divorced from the reality of the objective world in which we live, and subtract the 1 dead bird shot by the young lad, from the original number of birds identified on the telephone wire, and come up with the correct answer: 10 are left, because 1 was shot and killed, and therefore the mathematical equation: 11 – 1 = 10.  But it turns out that the correct answer is: “None”.  Why?  Because once the boy fired the gun and killed the 1, all of the others flew away.  Now, one can scratch one’s head and say with self-effacement, “Of course!  That only makes sense!”  Or, one can pause and say, “Now, why wasn’t that as obvious as the answer now seems, after it is pointed out to me?”

Now, contrast that with “real life”:  A hunter goes with his loyal dog and flushes out 3 pheasants from the forest; he takes aim and kills 2; 1 gets away.  He is later asked, “How many did you get?”  He answers, “Two.”  He is asked:  “Any left behind?”  The hunter looks at the questioner quizzically, with some puzzlement.  Why?  Because the question doesn’t quite make any sense – why would you ask such a question?

The fact is that there is a language divide – in real life, asking “how many are left” is not a relevant question, because the reality of living one’s life has already revealed the reality of the living.  It is only when we turn reality into an insularity ensconced within a theoretical construct does it become a thinking universe divorced from the objective world around us.

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 job, the issue of the language divide is a reality that the Federal or Postal worker must live with each and every day of your life.  That is because you live with a medical condition – the deteriorating effects, the daily symptoms, the chronic pain, numbness, gait imbalance, dizziness, vertigo, cognitive dysfunctions, etc.  The “world of language” doesn’t quite “understand” the reality of the medical condition, and is often inadequate to describe or decipher the sensations experienced.

That being said, in order to formulate an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, the language divide must nevertheless be bridged; for, an effective Federal Disability Retirement application must by necessity enter the world of language – of the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (SF 3112A), the medical reports, and legal argumentation with persuasive force; and it is the language divide itself which must become the vehicle for an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, so that when the single bird is shot, there aren’t any left to speak about on the telephone wire that connects language to the reality of one’s life.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: That wretched attachment to life

The theoretical construct proposed by Darwin has proven itself many times over, according to evolutionists, since his initial dawn of delineating the “origins” of our existence; the urge towards existence, of remaining, of “being” as an instinctive component that cannot be denied, has become merely an accepted and acceptable normative paradigm of modernity.

In many ways, the inherent attachment to life itself is the basis of a wretchedness that leads to self-destructive behavior; many of us hate ourselves and do things that hurt and harm – a mode of self-immolation and Western-style seppuku that results in self-medicating devices encapsulating the spectrum from overeating, alcoholism, multiple partners and spreading of diseases untold; or, on the other end of the extreme, of become vegetarian, vegan, health-fitness-exercise-cosmetic-surgery and everything else to stay young and vibrant.

That wretched attachment to life cannot be avoided; it is who we are and the essence of our very being.  Is there such a thing as an “unhealthy” attachment to life?  It is all well and good for Camus to write about the Myth of Sisyphus and the need to turn away from self-annihilation before being able to live an “authentic” life; he was handsome, a pretty good writer, and French (or, actually, Algerian) to boot, and his only competition was a near-blind ally who was close to incoherent in philosophical discourse (i.e., referring to Sartre, of course).

But back to the idea at hand – of that wretched attachment to life.  We see it in old people attached to mechanical apparatus to prolong it; of humanism and even religiosity that remains suspicious as to whether there is truly anything else in the great “beyond” after death; and so we cling to life at all costs.  What would be the alternative?  To live a quality-filled, balanced existence? We sometimes forget why we became what we are today, and become steeped too deeply in the troubles of everyday existence.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition becomes the focal point of existence itself, there is a double whammy: Of the chronic and often debilitating medical condition itself, as well as worrying about and contending against the daily harassment and adversarial threats initiated by the Federal agency or the Postal facility, and it often becomes so burdensome that one wonders as to that wretched attachment to life.

But always go back to basics, to the foundation of Darwinian essence: Life is, indeed precious, and sometimes it takes a different sort of step in order to regain the balance in life that is needed.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement is merely that step in order to reorient one’s self for a future course of life.  It is a means to an end, where a Federal Disability Retirement allows for the Federal or Postal employee to separate and retire with an annuity, then to consider one’s future after attending first to the medical conditions one is suffering from.

In that sense, that wretched attachment to life is more akin to the Hindu concept of reincarnation, where obtaining a Federal Disability Retirement through OPM is like returning to this life in a different form, and becoming resurrected from the ashes of the metaphorical Phoenix to live another day.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Disability Retirement: The Other Side of Work

The entanglement of work with value and worth is an inescapable aggregate of custom, upbringing, time spent, and the egoism of leaving some indelible mark upon an otherwise implacable universe.  Where work resulted in income, and income the cumulative wealth of a lifetime, the driving force behind it never mandated the fury of necessity.  Of course work has always been tied to livelihood; that is a given.  But when the doors for credit, mortgages exponentially exceeding an imbalance beyond capacity to repay, and the idea became accepted that luxury need not be left for tomorrow, the slavery of bonding work to worth became an unworthy concept.

Then, when a medical condition begins to impact one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, the fear and trembling for future needs begins to encroach.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who find that a medical condition is having an effect upon one’s performance of work, the reality of potential alternatives must be faced, and quite quickly, lest the other side of work, like this side of paradise, leaves one with neither work nor income, but a bleak future without either.

Filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, will take time to develop, submit, and wait upon in order to receive a decision from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  It is a complex bureaucratic process with multiple administrative facets.  The reality of needing to file, however, should never be confused with the bundled confusion one has concerning worth, work, and the value of one’s contribution to society.  It is the medical condition itself, and attending to the symptoms and effects of that which one never expected, asked for, nor desired, that must be focused upon .

Some things in life are, indeed, worth of greater value than work, and the value placed upon the other side of work will determine the course of one’s future, whether of joy and love, or of further puzzlement beyond the imprint of time spent without one’s family.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Disability Retirement Law: Causality

Worker’s Comp requires it; Social Security disregards it; and OPM Disability Retirement shifts the issue into a different arena.  “Causality” encapsulates the relationship between two or more events, where one is thought to result from another, or put a different way, where “responsibility” for a given effect is attributed to a prior conditional occurrence fulfilled as sufficient to warrant as being the “cause” of that event.

In a Federal OWCP case, administered through the Department of Labor, one must prove that the injury or medical condition was “caused” as a workplace incident or occurrence, such that the “event” occurred or was somehow connected to the employment itself.

For Social Security Disability cases, causation is normally not an issue, since the basis for eligibility is not concerned with any singular event, but rather, whether the person filing for Social Security Disability benefits meets a standard definition of being “totally disabled” from gainful employment.

For Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the issue is not one of causation, but rather, the relationship between one’s medical condition and the attributable impact upon one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

Thus, there is, in a different sense, a case of causality to be made, but the relationship between A and B has shifted, where it matters not “how” it occurred, but rather, “whether” the medical condition prevents (causes) one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

In the end, causation in a Federal/Postal Disability Retirement application is irrelevant in the traditional sense that one normally accepts, but the shifting focus of causality is important to keep in mind in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire