Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The precarious self

Self-preservation is said to be high on the list of instinctive survival mechanisms – that which society cannot “un-learn” because of the inherent nature of such evolutionary entrenchment of DNA-coded characteristics.  It used to be that, whether in the mythical “State of Nature” as advanced and envisioned by Locke, Hobbes or Rousseau, or the more fossil-based models as posited by anthropologists, the individual who was widely considered as a precarious survivor was quickly extinguished from the gene pool either though acts of foolish daring or by neglectful carelessness.

Survival was, until recent times, always high on the list of priorities.

In modernity, we rarely even consider it, and that is why we cringe with disbelief at horror stories of sitting placidly in a café or restaurant when suddenly innocent bystanders are being shot at, or become the victims of an explosion where shrapnel and other ravaging debris aim at the human flesh – not for predatory hunger, but for mere destruction and devastation.  Laws become enacted and govern safety; mechanisms are put in place to prevent industrial accidents or massive catastrophes impacting a wide swath of population centers; these are all, in modernity, for the most part, avoided and of rare occurrence.

Thus, the precarious self has become an irrelevant concern, or not at all.  The incommensurate dilemma of an individual being lost in his or her own thoughts as he walks upon a den of wolves out to find and devour dinner, is not of a major concern; perhaps, the closest we may come to in considering the precarious self is of a person lost in thought who crosses the street without looking for oncoming traffic; but, even that, the new technology arming every vehicle with sensors which automatically prompts the braking systems are attending to that potentiality, as well.

It is, in the end, more in the arena of making mistakes, proceeding in ignorance and creating circumstances of irreconcilable self-destructiveness, that the concept even becomes applicable or comprehensible, in these days.  For example, in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application by a Federal employee or a U.S. Postal worker, does the Federal employee or Postal worker know enough about “The Laws” governing Federal Disability Retirement in order to proceed successfully?  Have you spent enough time to familiarize yourself with the statute, the case-law and precedents of recent import in order to successfully maneuver your way through the administrative process?

This is, whether one likes it or not, a highly bureaucratized universe, and the ability to avoid the precarious self often requires a great amount of investment of one’s time, energy and concentrated focus upon the details of daily, unavoidable complexities.  Preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee falls under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is something that requires avoidance of the precarious self, at a minimum; and, more than that, to maneuver around the precarious “others” as well – including the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The immovable individual

Aristotle’s unmoved mover is an interesting conceptual posit:  it is based upon the cohesive compromise between the Pre-Socratics as paradigmatic examples encapsulated by Parmenides and Heraclitus – of the universe as seen in a singular “oneness” as opposed to embroiled in constant flux and change.

The unmoved mover consolidates into a synergistic compromise the pendulum between the two extremes:  Here is the apex of perfection representing unchangeableness, surrounded by the universe of flux and constant metamorphosis striving towards that paradigm of perfection; and so the world of alteration and the oneness of the infinite are balanced in a yin-yang of a complete whole.

Within this universe of the immovable and inconstancy reflects the types of individuals roaming the world – of the indecisive and hollow man without a moral compass, to the principled and uncompromising stalwart whom some would characterize as narrow-minded and radical in holding extremist views unshaken by cultural alterations and daily vicissitudes of undermined normative paradigms.

But history portends of change, and it is the mounds of human detritus that combine to reveal that flux is the foundation of successful adaptation for survival in Nature, as well as in human society – of business models that must follow the trends of cultural metamorphosis, to the embracing of a changing society and structures of sociological tremors throughout.  Yes, having principles to abide by is important; but Man is neither perfect like the Unmoved Mover, nor touching upon the residue of angels and gods who pride in the near-perfection of heavenly bodies.

The immovable individual – while principled and relied upon for foundational support – is often the one left behind because when life clashes with the ivory tower of conceptual constructs, not moving is tantamount to seppuku – the traditional honor-killing by disembowelment by the samurai.

That is often the problem with life, living and beliefs that one clings to; and for the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who has a view that one’s Federal or Postal career path must by necessity strive towards the Unmoved Mover, the problem is when a medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties.

Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers often will continue to work until it is detrimental to his or her own self-interest – i.e., to the cost of one’s health.

Yes, having a paradigm of principled beliefs is important, and yes, living by a moral compass can maintain the important foundation for integrity, loyalty, uprightness and reflecting all that is good in human nature.  But when reality clashes with principle – as when one’s view of working for “the mission of the agency” or for the good of the U.S. Postal Service begins to contradict one’s medical condition, then it is time to consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, and not worry too much about being the immovable individual whose paradigm as reflected in how Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover may – while being a stalwart of perfection – be left behind in the dustbin of history’s irrelevant collection of ideas showing the vaunted state of angels no longer believed in, and gods removed because of the errors of myths and fantasies once created to tell the narrative of human folly.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: False Positives

We demand that a “retest” be done, to ensure that the result did not have the opposite effect.  It is a linguistic conundrum that the affirmative means its negative; for, in medicine, a “positive” result is the worst of news, whereas in most every other context, it is a welcomed declarative.  But because it is a result which is not embraced with delight, we ask that it be further verified in the event that the “positive” is a false one, and we want it instead to not be a true one, and thus ask for a retest in order to see whether the second one will result in a true negative, which is the opposite of a true positive in hopes that the first positive result is a false one.

Are there such similar circumstances in daily life, apart from the medical field, where we received results of false positives?  The latter term in the phrase is misleading, precisely because laudatory declaratives are normally welcoming additions; yet, combined with the former word that essentially negates the latter, it is an oxymoron of sorts and is thus relegated to a defined field in the medical arena.

But false positive do rear their ugly heads now and again; in employment, where awards and exuberant encouragement are provided with nary a compensatory incentive, giving the impression that the company recognizes the employee as a valued asset, all the while withholding that most coveted of advancements – the “raise”.

That is surely a “false positive” that needs to be retested.

Or, of loyalty seemingly accorded by a Federal agency or the U.S. Postal worker, so long as productivity is met and the “mission of the agency” is placed on a priority basis, where long and uncompensated hours, both in physical presence and cognitive input when exhaustion from work, worries and problem solving overwhelm and consecrate; but when it really “counts”, does the concept of loyalty allow for bilateralism, or was it merely a one-way street:  Your loyalty to the Federal Agency or the Postal Service, in return for a false positive?

Is filing a Federal Disability Retirement application considered a “false positive”?  Or even in an inverted sense – it is “positive” because it is a benefit which is available when (often) all other options have failed; it is purportedly “false” because it means giving up one’s career and being presented with a future with less income.

But it can also possess an inverted meaning –  of a false positive because it is an a recognition that the medical condition has come to a point where an admission must be made:  the falsity of hope in relying upon the Federal Agency or U.S. Postal Service to reward one’s undiminished loyalty these many years and decades, would result in an accommodation of the medical condition, combined with a sense of positive outlook for the future because of this past reliance.

No – unfortunately, such a false positive would surely have to be retested, and the result would be that, yes, the false positive of having the ability to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is indeed a true positive that is there to be accessed.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: Recognizing Problems

Why are some better at preemptively addressing recognizable foreshadowing?  Is it a genetic predisposition related to the capacity of surviving?  Like the instinctive responses of animals, is it an inherent trait that favors those who are more “fit” with such a characteristic, and thus to the disadvantage of those who do not possess it, where recognition and preemptive engagement allows for survival and thus the genetic pool favoring by dominance of avoiding the mortality trap?  Have we replaced such instinctive abilities by relegating most problems to linguistic identification and capacity to solve?

For, in the human world where language prevails and electronic communication is now the preeminent engagement of consciousness, the “problems” to recognize are no longer the danger of an approaching predator nor the oncoming storm out in the middle of the ocean (although, a burning house or a hurricane imminent if you live on the coast are still real dangers), but for the most part, language games that need modification, curtailment or adjustment in order to correct the inconvenience of social constructs that have gone amok or astray.

Yes, the furnace may break down, the water heater may have sprung a leak, or the roof shingles may need replacing; but even those, the resolution is rarely one that is initiated by us; rather, it is to utilize the mode of communication and either by phone, email or text messaging, we make an appointment for someone else to fix the problem.  Recognition of the concern was still contained within the world of language, and the physical work attended to is relegated and delegated to some strange entity in another universe.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal employee or U.S. Postal Worker to take the next step by preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset – the process begins with a “real” problem:  the medical condition itself, which will not go away no matter the treatment modalities or the constant attempt to work one’s way through the chronic and progressively deteriorating situation.

Then, from the reality of the problem itself, the jump to recognizing the further concern must inevitably manifest itself – that of the incompatibility and incommensurate nature of the medical condition and being able to do all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties.

Thus, recognizing the problem is the first step in resolving the issues; however, resolution may sometimes need some expertise and advice beyond what the Federal or Postal employee can foresee in the foreshadowing of approaching dark clouds.  For, not all problems are equal, and certainly not all solutions, and while recognizing problems may resolve some of the concerns, the greater issue is whether the Federal or Postal employee will have all of the information available “out there” in the netherworld of an administrative and bureaucratic morass as that of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, such that the problems one cannot recognize may be the one that defeats the solution never known.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Answering Questions

How do we come to learn how to do it?  Certainly, we come across certain eccentric individuals who defy every conventional norm, and somehow manage to appear as if they have done what otherwise we recognize as not having been completed.

Have you ever come across someone who just isn’t “quite right” – such that, when you ask a question, the tangents that flood forth and the meandering thought processes make it an arbitrary conclusion as to whether it was the specific question asked that prompted the incommensurate response, or just the mere fact of a tonal posit of a question-like query that compelled a verbal reaction, even if it has nothing to do with the substance of the question itself?

How do children learn how to answer questions?  Is it natural; is there a systematized process of acceptability; is it taught in any course with a heading like, “Elementary Basics 101: How to answer a question”; and do we presume that acceptable and normative constraints are just learned effortlessly?  Certainly, the classical educational approach of dialectical methodologies – of a question posited; raised hands, chosen orders and an answer provided; then the reinforced positive feedback by the teacher in either affirming or rejecting the response – is an approach that somewhat answers the mystery.

But what of that “weird” kid?  The one where the teacher asks:  “Is the earth round or flat?”  The kid answers:  “That is an oversimplification, as the geometrical constructs require a perspective that betrays ignorance of quantum physics, where flatness is a relative concept to roundness, and vice versa.”  Now, one may smile and wonder whether, perhaps such a child prodigy reveals an intelligence quotient beyond his age or class assignment, but all the rest of the kids would just roll their eyes about as the class bullies await for recess hour in order to beat that kid to a pulp.

But was the question answered, and to that end, satisfactorily?  Or, what if another kid, perhaps half-daydreaming, suddenly blurts, “It’s blue!  It’s blue!”  Did that kid answer it any less adequately than the first?  How do we learn to answer questions?

What if the questions are essentially legalese and incomprehensible, or of a “tricky” nature and makes one pause before moving forward?  Do questions posed, for instance, by law enforcement officials evoke greater caution (as in, “To the best of my recollection…”), and if so, why?  Is it because the stakes may be higher and the suspicion of the double entendre is always there?  Which brings us to the problem of Federal Disability Retirement applications, and specifically SF 3112A – Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

The questions posed on the Standard Form 3112A seem simple enough; but simplicity does not necessarily mean straightforward, and indeed, when a Federal or Postal employee is completing SF 3112A, it is best to go back to fundamentals and ask yourself, How did I learn to answer questions, and are these questions the type that may need additional help, because – though they may seem simple enough and not quite in legalese – there is some trickiness in the very simplicity of the query.

And it is the rule to remember, that the simplest questions require the greatest pause, where suspicion will warrant a more extensive pondering of reflective repose.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire