Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Our narrative of discourse

Do we all carry about multiple narratives within?  Perhaps, one for public consumption; another, for family gatherings; yet another the edited version only for the ears of the young and uninitiated; and perhaps more, depending upon the audience, the susceptibility to believe, and the necessity for coherence as opposed to self-promotion and puffing up?

How about those “Service experiences” – where we get carried away in exaggerating the feats of bravery and encounters with the enemy?  How many politicians have been driven from office for telling a slight (or even not so slight) deviation from the “truth” in reenacting wartime stories and narratives of consummate manliness and Stallone-like fearless feats?  “Oh, the DD 214 doesn’t even begin to tell what I had to go through…”  Or even of high school days of athletic prowess and academic achievement in college; if only transcripts would remain silent in the archives of shrouded mystery in safekeeping for secrecy.

We do, each of us, carry multiple narratives of discourse, often dependent upon the audience we encounter and the susceptibility of suspending disbelief and the receptiveness to our meanderings.  So, why is it that we often fail to conform to the change of necessity, when it counts most?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, involves providing a narrative discourse in response to specific questions on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

This is the moment when truth must push aside exaggeration, and where some specificity of delineation must be attended.  The “nexus” or “bridge” between one’s Federal or Postal position and the impact by one’s medical condition must be established, and the targeted audience (the U.S. Office of Personnel Management – not your own agency, your supervisor or anyone related thereto) must always be kept in mind.

In the end, our narrative of discourse that we carry about in our own minds has always been about revealing some part of ourselves to an audience receptive to specific needs, and preparing an effective SF 3112A is no different from that perspective, and must be kept in mind when composing the narrative of discourse in a Federal Disability Retirement application.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Natural empathy

Is there such a thing, or do we just fake it even when we do not naturally “feel” it?  If the official, technical definition fails to make the distinction between “feeling” and “understanding”, does it not discount the differentiation of the traditional bifurcation – that of rational capacity as opposed to part of one’s emotional quotient?

Further, if it is merely an emotion, do some have a greater capacity because of a genetic predisposition, while others at a minimal level acquired through accident of birth, and thus can one be held responsible for merely being who we are?  On the other hand, if it has a closer affinity to an “understanding” one possesses, then can it not be cultivated and enhanced, and therefore within the purview of an educational system that includes “empathy instruction”?

How would one “teach” empathy?  Would you present slide shows of unfortunate events, and by instructional imprinting, have the teacher or headmaster unravel with emotional turmoil and manifest tears of sorrow, and hope that the students will by some mysterious osmosis embrace that capacity to experience such travails “as if” one were in the other’s shoes?  And, what do we mean when we attribute empathy as a “natural” course of human characteristic – is it counterintuitive to the distinction made of its opposite, of an “artificial” construct?

In Darwinian parlance, of course, there is little room for Natural empathy – the weak merely dilute the sacrosanct genetic pool of the strong and those fit to survive, and time wasted in trying to protect the weak or to understand those less fortunate will only succumb to the inevitable devouring by prey otherwise in waiting.

In the “civilization” of the human animal, there are certainly historical instances of unexplainable natural empathy, but whether there was always even therein a hidden agenda, a personal motivation, or a self-centered glint of purpose, we shall never know.  The naïve will posit that natural empathy is central to the human character; the cynic, that it is neither natural nor a tendency discovered in any species known, but just another societal construct forced upon the strong as part of the social contract to defend the weak.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the health condition has resulted in testing the natural empathy of coworkers, supervisors and managers at the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, there may well be a division and diversity of opinions on the matter.

Whether natural or artificial, unfortunate events do indeed test the capacity of human character, and when the Federal or Postal employee prepares a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the uncaring and impervious attitudes of those encountered along the long and arduous process in attempting to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits, can indeed test the attitudes of a generation yet to experience the cruelty of an otherwise imperfect universe.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Coordinating the efforts

The amazement of tandem coordination is discovered in various corners of Nature – of tentacles of an octopus seemingly working without the complexity of entanglement; of an eagle’s capture in mid-flight of its prey, where the claws and wings attack and devour with perfect harmony; and in modernity, the capacity and ability to “multi-task”, as the parlance of efficiency has been noted.

The human animal is a formidable creature – perhaps not the best at any one thing (speed is set by the Cheetah; endurance, in the Wolf’s persistence; but of competence in all areas, the two-legged, vertical organism sets the standard for excellence), but able to compensate for deficiencies by exerting acceptable levels of efficiency in many.

However, we often confuse the ability and capacity to multi-task with the presentation of an objective, impervious world of multiple data bombarding simultaneously.  Thus, the fact that the tentacles of an octopus may seemingly work in coordinated fashion in swimming and engulfing does not mean that if a dozen marbles were thrown at it in a single shot, that it would be able to respond appropriately.  Similarly, speed in short bursts may be impressive, but it may not translate into an ability to adapt if objective conditions require greater endurance for quantitative calibration of speed.

There is a limit and a ceiling for tolerance in performing feats, and for the human animal, the mere fact of showing minimal competence in some forms of multi-tasking, does not necessarily convert well when the necessity arises to coordinate complex issues which are further impeded by a medical condition of an impactful nature.

Thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the fallacy often arises that, because one has been capable in an administrative or executive capacity, one may be able to coordinate the efforts for one’s self in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Bridging the nexus between the medical condition and the essential elements of one’s positional duties; conforming to “the law” in formulating one’s Statement of Disability on SF 3112A; of obtaining the proper medical documentation that will meet the standards of the compendium of legal opinions issued by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board – these, and many others, must be taken into account when preparing an effective OPM Disability Retirement application.

And, like the hunter in past lives who suddenly becomes winded, becoming the hunted is not where the Federal Disability Retirement applicant wants to be when coordinating the efforts in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire