Context, Content and Vacuums in Federal Employee Disability Retirement Applications

Vacuums constitute space devoid of matter.  In the practical world, the mechanical tool used for removal of unwanted substances merely moves matter from one location to another; in theoretical physics, one encounters complex conceptual discussions which will often involve comparative analysis of partial vacuums in relation to pure vacuums.  Discussions involving vacuums, where a proper context is important in understanding the relational significance of subjects focused upon, and the incomprehensible vacuity of meaningless occurs when conceptual connections are lost because context and substance lose their connective importance.

In the context of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, too much focus and attention upon peripheral matters, outside of the context of medical conditions in their relationship to positional duties and essential elements of one’s Federal job, will often create a vacuum of significance.

Context is always important; but the extent of detail required, and necessity of issues to be discussed, and the quantitative value of documentation and evidence submitted, may well prove to attain an opposite effect from the one intended. Unintended consequences resulting from intended actions are to be expected in daily life; but where one has decided to pursue an administrative and bureaucratic process where submission of the evidence can be thoughtfully controlled, it is always important to coordinate the relationships between context, content and vacuums.  The descriptive context of an OPM Disability Retirement application; the substantive content of the evidence to be submitted; and the vacuum created by placing evidence in one part of the Federal Disability Retirement application but leaving it omitted from another, results in the intended whole of an effective Federal Disability Retirement packet.

All Federal Disability Retirement applications are filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, and because the agency which reviews, approves or denies a Federal Disability Retirement claim is different from the one which originates with the source (with the exception of the injured Federal Employee who actually works with OPM, which can of course happen and has happened), it is important to consider the connective relationship between context, content and vacuums created, both in practical life, in theoretical physics, as well as in the preparation, formulation and filing of a CSRS or FERS Disability Retirement application.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management: Concurrent Actions

Idioms often convey an underlying truth recognized and identified by a specific culture or population; they are statements from an experiential aggregation of similitude, based upon a shared set of values.  The phrase, “When it rains, it pours”, is easily a recognizable idiom; that when things go wrong, multiple wrong things tend to occur altogether, all at once.  It is somewhat of a tautology, as when “X is Y, X are Ys”.  But it is in the very pluralization of the outcome which makes the differentiation significant.

For Federal and Postal employees contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, the engagement of the administrative and bureaucratic process of preparing, formulating and filing for FERS Disability Retirement benefits rarely results in a vacuum.

Often (or perhaps one is forced to begin with the prefatory clause, “All too often”), the long and complex history of harassment, complaints, formal complaints, grievances, lawsuits, EEO filings, etc., precede the filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application, thereby complicating one’s Federal Disability Retirement application with much baggage, historical aggregation of enmity and acrimony, and creating a simple set of causal facts into a convoluted compendium of complexities.  All of a sudden, the soft sounds of rain turn into a downpour of ferocious flooding.

In such cases, in formulating one’s Federal Disability Retirement application, it is important to bifurcate the compounded complexities, and to simplify, streamline and segregate.  From the viewpoint of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the very agency which receives and decides upon all Federal Disability Retirement applications, the mixing of concurrent actions and issues merely complicates matters.

As we all do, we would prefer to hear the soft patter of rain, and not the thunderous mess of a downpour.  Even the plants in the garden recognize that.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Frameworks

To be successful in any endeavor, one must identify the relevant issues, sift through and discard the peripheral contents, and maintain a thematic thread throughout in order to keep the focus upon the essence of the project. Anyone who has attended a meeting which lacks a subject-matter focus, and where a free-for-all is allowed, without a circumscribed set of agendas, can attest to the importance of setting priorities and understanding the difference between points of significance and irrelevant detractions.

Frames are important, and sometimes as much as the painting itself.  For, art is merely a slice of the greater exposure to life, and it is the frame which distinguishes that parcel of perspective and allows the viewer to participate in a moment of time and a pause for reflection.  For the Federal or Postal Worker who is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important to provide a “roadmap” to OPM, and thus circumscribe the framework of the relevant attachments, medical and legal issues to be evaluated, and the pathway to resolutions preemptively proposed.

Thus, the three tiers of an effective framework should include: (1) A clear and concise Statement of Disability (here, one must be careful because of the legal consequences of failing to include and fully describe the medical conditions), (2) A reference to the relevancy of the attached documents which support the statement, and (3) the pertinent legal foundations which are satisfied by the first two tiers.

He who frames the picture has the power to direct the viewer’s perspective; for, it is the frame which enhances the content of the artistry, and directs the appreciation to an irrelevant empty sky in a schematically unimportant corner of the painting, or to the central theme where the brilliance of bursting colors explode forth in magnificent reflections of a masterpiece’s slice of life.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Effective Negations

Why is it that some words are known primarily by their negation?  For example, we use the word “unfettered” to convey the meaning of freedom and release, but rarely see the usage of its non-negative form, as in, “He is fettered”.  Perhaps it is because we no longer approve of placing chains or manacles upon prisoners, and instead have become more civilized, with a concurrent alteration in the usage of the term for more genteel societies.

Often, it is the very negation of X — whether through minimization or leaving out completely that which we originally thought to be so indispensable — which makes for the effective case.  Thus, in a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the problem is normally not one of what to write about or how much to submit; rather, it is the editing process and the paring down and streamlining of a case which is the hard part.

Most people who suffer from a medical condition which has come to a crisis point where it prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, are not at a loss for words or volumes of documents ready to submit.  But not everything which is material to a case is relevant, and in order to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is always best to streamline on the basis of relevance per statutory criteria.

Thus, we come full circle:  negation of a concept is often the most effective avenue of discourse; the un-negated bundle, left alone, may include too much baggage for the untrained eye.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Essence of the Case

Ultimately, the “essence” of a thing is defined by a multitude of characteristics; but when a query is made as to what X “is”, as opposed to what it is “not”, the attempt to describe X is almost always rendered inadequate or deficient.  It is not enough to say that X is “not A, B or C”, for it may be equally true that Y is also not A, B or C, and yet X is not identical to Y.  

When an individual asks the unanswerable question, How does one successfully apply for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management? — the answer cannot be formulated by delineating a list of don’ts (although that may be helpful in a great majority of cases).  Rather, the reason why such a question is untenable, aside from being too generalized a question, is that each particular case requires a different and unique set of answers.  

Yes, there are general applicability standards which one must follow (i.e., sufficient medical documentation; knowledge of the relevant laws; an understanding of the legal concepts involved, etc.).  Yes, there are standard forms to complete (SF 3107 series FERS employees; SF 2801 series for CSRS employees; SF 3112 series for both FERS & CSRS employees) — but how they are completed, and the information provided, must be carefully formulated.  How one puts together a Federal Disability Retirement case is just as important in getting at the essence of a Federal Disability Retirement case, than trying to figure out the different components which make up a case.  

The “essence” of a thing is a sought-after jewel which has been an ongoing event throughout Western Philosophy, from Plato and Aristotle, to Heidegger and Husserl; it has only been in recent years that such a search has merely turned into a Wittgensteinian language game; and with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, perhaps it is proper that it has become so.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Discretionary Extraction

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, there is often the question of whether X should be included, or Y should be left out.  Whether certain elements, issues, substantive descriptions, etc., should be included, excluded, extracted or otherwise inserted, largely falls into discretionary decision-making; sometimes, however, personal or professional discretion should not be the guiding criteria; rather, the compelling necessity directed by the legal requirements should dictate the decision itself.

Making such decisions often fall into three basic categories:  Substantive; ancillary; an admixture of the first and second.  Obviously, “which” medical conditions should be included will normally fall into the substantive category; the “history” of the medical condition, the circumstances under which the medical condition came about, and certain medical conditions which one might suffer from, but which have little or no impact upon one’s ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, might be considered ancillary; and lastly, the admixture of the two — of agency-induced issues which may have resulted in an EEO action; stress-related conditions from a hostile work environment:  these must be considered carefully, and should rarely be included in a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Ultimately, the guiding principle should be:  Don’t muddy the waters.  But the true guide should always be “the law”, and what purports to uphold that which proves by a preponderance of the evidence a Federal Disability Retirement application.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire