Filing for Federal Disability Retirement: Damaged goods

Perhaps it is of a fine porcelain statue; or a painting that depicts perfection in a pastoral panorama presenting a private purview of picturesque purity (sorry for the alliteration that cannot be resisted); or a first edition book that is without blemish; or a host of other “goods” that one values, admires, cherishes — and is purchased with anticipation of contentment.

Upon returning home, one notices an imperfection not previously spotted: a small “crack” on the forearm of the porcelain figure; a tear in the upper right portion of the canvas, just below the line where the frame casts a shadow and becomes almost imperceptible; or a crayon marking on page 324, in the middle of the book, unnoticed unless one inspects each and every page.

The item cannot be returned, because of either distance (perhaps it was purchased on international travel in a small shop in a foreign country not known for return policies); policy (the sign clearly stated, “All sales are final and the purchaser bears all responsibility in inspecting the condition of the item prior to buying”) or some other impracticable reason.

The imperfection is so minor that no one else knows, would notice or otherwise cares to comment on such an impurity of the state of the condition, except for one small and irritating fact: You know.  It bothers you.  The fact of the damaged goods betrays something about yourself — not merely that a contrast against a paradigm of perfection has stirred an irrationality that struggles against good judgment, but moreover, that there exists an intolerance for a standard of less than the penultimate apex of an unreachable standard.

What does one do?  You can: Hide and stash away the item (but it yet remains with the knowledge that, hidden or not, the aura of imperfection exists); you can give it as a gift, or sell it to a third party (but what if the potential purchaser recognizes the imperfection and bargains for a better price, leaving you with a loss — will that constantly remind you of your lack of judgment when once you thought that your expertise in such matters was the paradigm of perfection itself?); justify to yourself over and over that, “Yes, it isn’t perfect, but boy is it a great piece regardless!” (perhaps, over time, this approach may work); or, do the most drastic of solutions: destroy the item and trash it.

Medical conditions have a way of impacting individuals in a similar manner as the discovery of imperfection in what one once thought was a paradigm of perfection: somehow, it is even worse, because of the personal manner that medical conditions impact: it touches upon one’s self, one’s self-image and the crumbling sense of self-confidence one possessed when health was taken for granted.

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, always try and keep in mind that the diminution of the “product” concerned (i.e., yourself, the Federal or Postal employee) is not discovered by the mere fact of filing for Federal Disability Retirement — rather, the fault is in the system of the Federal Government for not being able to be patient as you struggle to recover from you illness or injury.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset is not a reflection on the “value” of you; it is, instead, the reality of a system that fails to recognize the difference between the relative value of “goods” as opposed to the priceless perfection of a human being and his or her contribution to society.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Disability Retirement Help: The Applicant’s Statement

The SF 3112A is the focal point of it all; without it, the entirety of the Federal Disability Retirement application would be incomplete, inconsequential and insidiously irrelevant.  The U.S. Office of Personnel Management can make a decision on a Federal Disability Retirement application — theoretically — without full answers or incomplete answers of the “other” forms, such as the Checklist, or even the Supervisor’s Statement; but as for the SF 3112A, The Applicant’s Statement of Disability — well, there is no getting around the fact of its prominence, importance and position of significance and relevance.

The Applicant’s Statement of Disability puts everything in its proper perspective; it tells the narrative of one’s medical conditions; it provides (or, at least should) the nexus between one’s medical condition and the essential elements of one’s job, tasks, duties, positional requirements, etc., and gives a key and insight into the very foundation of the legal criteria for OPM to either grant or deny a Federal Disability Retirement application.  That being the case, why would a Federal or Postal employee leave such an important component as the content and substance of an SF 3112A up to one’s own self?

The person who suffers from the medical condition can hardly be the one to properly, adequately or completely describe the key components of one’s medical condition and its impact upon one’s positional duties; for, the one who suffers by definition is the very.same person who is divorced from having an objective perspective.

Remember, always, that Federal Disability Retirement is a medically-based administrative procedure — one which must encompass and encapsulate the objectivity of medical documentation, the meeting of a legal criteria that has evolved over many decades, and an aggregation of the two combined in order to persuade the U.S. Office of Personnel Management that the compendium of one’s documented evidentiary findings rises to the level of a preponderance of the evidence presented in a coherent manner to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Does such an endeavor appear consistent with the Federal or Postal employee who is too sick to work the essential elements of one’s job?


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Fair Games

It depends upon how you read the concept, which word or syllable you place the accent or emphasis upon, doesn’t it?

In one sense of the concept, it has to do with games found at the county or state Fairs — you know, where cotton candy is sold and prizes are awarded for the largest potato grown or the fattest pig shown.  In another sense, it is in contrast to its opposite — of games where you have a good chance because rules are imposed and upheld, as opposed to “unfair” games where the proverbial deck is stacks against you.  It is in this second sense of the term that we apply.

Fairness itself is a difficult concept, precisely because of its malleability.  One concept of fairness is an arguable delineation based upon rules, perspectives, and even perhaps of cultural backgrounds.  Rules themselves can be attacked, and are “fair game” when it comes to disputatious boundaries, where there are essentially none to circumvent.

You can argue that such-and-such a call was unfair, and that obnoxious fan sitting next to you might counter, “But that’s within the rules of the game,” and you might then counter to the counter, “Then the game is rigged and the rules are unfair!”  What would be the counter-answer to the counter of the counter?  Perhaps, to say: “Listen, buddy, I don’t make up the rules.  It’s fair by definition if everyone who plays the game has to play by the same rules.”  Is that the silencer — the conversation-stopper — that cannot be argued against?

But what if everyone theoretically has to “play by the rules of the game”, but the rules are administered in a lopsided manner?  Is that what makes the game “unfair”?  Isn’t that what fans the world over complain about when the umpire, for example, sets the “strike zone” (or in other contexts, the “foul zone” or some such similar animal) too wide for some pitchers and too narrow for others?

Or, wasn’t there something like the “Jordan Rule” where a certain player was allowed to take an “extra step” (or two or three, for that matter) and no “traveling violation” was called, because the beauty of his fluid movements surpassed and transcended any “rules” that might disrupt the mesmerizing effect of such human defiance of gravity right before our eyes?  Could you imagine what an uproar that would have caused, where the player-in-question flies through the air with such acrobatic display of gravity-defying beauty, slam-dunks the ball to the rising wave of appreciative fans, and a whistle is blown — and the basket is disallowed?

That awkward motion that the referee engages in — you know, where both hands are balled up into a fist and made into a circular motion, indicating that a traveling violation has occurred — and then pointing to the scoring table and telling them to subtract the 2-points just previously awarded…is it “fair”?  Should fairness sometimes be overlooked when beauty-in-mid-flight entertains us to such ecstatic delights?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the 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 job, life often begins to appear as if “fairness” is no longer an applicable rule — for, is it “fair” that one’s health has deteriorated despite doing everything to take care of it?  Is it “fair” that others seem to have lived a life of excess but seem not to be impacted at all by the abundance of maltreatment?  Is it “fair” that others appear to be receiving favoritism of treatment, while your Federal Agency or the Postal Service appears to be targeting you for every minor infraction of the “rules”?

Life, in general, is unfair, and when a Federal or Postal worker seems to be the target of unfair treatment because of a progressively deteriorating medical condition, it may well be time to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Life is often unfair in general; but when it comes to applying and enforcing “the Law”, it is best to consult with an experienced attorney, especially when seeking to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM.  And like the “Jordan Rule” concerning extra-rule-violation treatment, it is best to make sure that your attorney makes the Rules of the Game enforced — and fair.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Deviating and adapting

How does one deviate or adapt, if one is approaching something anew?

Such concepts as modifying or altering a methodology presumes that one has encountered the process before, and thus it stands to reason that a person who has never previously experienced something before can hardly be expected to provide new insights when the experience itself is new to the individual.  That is why we often refer to a person’s ability and capacity to “think on his or her feet” — meaning, to quickly encompass and adapt to new and fluid circumstances, despite a lack of familiarity with an onslaught of speedy changes.

Deviating, of course, can be a negative component, in that it may imply altering from a true-and-tested course of action, and unless one is certain of one’s confidence in a new path taken, there may ensue disastrous consequences when following a rebellious path that can lead to the unknown.  Many a trailblazer who knew not the way of the unbeaten path have perished by starvation or thirst.

On the other hand, we consider the capacity and ability of “adapting” to be a positive characteristic, in that it implies a characteristic of being able to respond to external circumstances that are changing, and requires a willingness to bend with the winds of change.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the dual concept of deviating and adapting comes to the fore precisely because of the need to change — both on the Agency/Postal Service’s side, as well as from the perspective of the Federal or Postal employee.

For the Federal Agency or the Postal Service, the issue of deviating and adapting comes about in terms of “accommodation” — for, it is necessary for the Federal Agency and the Postal Service, by force of law, to “deviate” from the former ways of behaving, and to “adapt” to the medical conditions and changes that the Federal or Postal employee is undergoing.

From the viewpoint of the Federal or Postal employee, deviating and adapting may encompass a wide range of issues in terms of accommodations — whether the situation and conditions posed are temporary or permanent by nature; whether the medical conditions suffered are able to be accommodated at all, either temporarily or permanently; and whether attendance is an issue; of how much SL must be taken; of FMLA issues and extensions of LWOP beyond, etc.

In the end, deviating and adapting from the “norm” may not be possible, in which case preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, may become necessary.

For all Federal and Postal employees, what is important to remember is that suffering from a progressively deteriorating medical condition will require deviating and adapting, and that may include the need to have expert legal guidance by an attorney who has previously had the experience in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application so that any and all deviations and adaptations can be initiated from the perspective of previous experience, and not as a trailblazer off of the beaten path where getting lost in the complexities of Federal Disability Retirement Laws can lead to disastrous results.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Employee Medical Retirement: When the superior argument no longer prevails

The potentiality of applying “jury nullification” opened the door to defiance, in a society constructed upon recognition, application and enforcement of “the law”; but of course, one may argue that such wholesale rejection of a conceptual construct deemed immoral or otherwise unfairly prejudicial, is itself a moral judgment which is allowable.

Would anyone argue that a jury which refused to convict during a trial in a repressive and totalitarian regime — say, in North Korea today, or during the Stalinist era — constituted “jury nullification”?  Or, would one simply declare that “the people” rightly and collectively decided to “stand up” against injustice, and applied a higher standard of the law — one which transcends the state’s attempt to impose an otherwise self-declared code of injustice by means of fiat and force?  It all depends upon the perspective; for, when the state empowers a group of individuals to possess, grant and apply the power of judgment rendered in the form of a verdict, then that collectivism of declared consensus constitutes the rightness or folly of a moral code itself.

In the end, the term itself is likely inappropriate; for the concept of “jury nullification” necessarily implies something underhanded or nefarious, as if the “jury” acting to “nullify” the law is somehow suspect, when in fact it is a declaration of rights asserted by means of granted power to do so.  The jury, by definition, is a law unto itself, as recognized by the state, and is therefore wholly independent and cannot be castigated for undertaking the very duty for which it was appointed to perform.

Now, as to whether or not it was receptive to, and embraced a lesser argument, as opposed to a superior one, is a fundamentally different question.  Were emotions swayed?  Did the eloquence of the opposing side overwhelm?  Did rationality and force of evidence persuade, or did the defendant’s mother back in the corner where spectators sat, weep silently and blow her nose into a soiled kerchief just enough to draw the attention of wandering eyes left pondering the fate of a devastated family? And does rationality always have to rule?  By what criteria do we demand that rationality always rule the emotive and appetitive?  Is it based upon the ancient code derived from Plato and Aristotle, of the various parts of the soul where the mind should govern the cosmos of the barbaric nature of our base selves?

But if circumstances and situations rule the day — such that in a “State of Nature” it is more advantageous for an individual to survive by pursuing instinct and animalistic aggressiveness, but in the more refined “Social Contract” basis the forms of civility and restrained interaction becomes the normative and accepted foundation, is not judgment of a fellow man a netherworld of intersecting universes, where the contradictory combining of war (a form thereof, as in a trial) and civility (of a jury deliberating in the quietude of a sequestered room) clash in culminating in a momentous fate of judgment?

The conclusion from modernity has already been rendered, of course; for, in the end, young people today care not for the force of rational argumentation, but rather, whether it “feels good”.  What reverberating consequences does such a force of change have upon society as a whole, and more specifically, for the Federal or Postal worker of today who must consider arguing to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management that the Federal Disability Retirement application should be approved?

Superior arguments, of course, should always be employed; and the Federal or Postal worker should never underestimate the power of legal persuasion, or the citing of relevant laws, statutes and applicable regulations.  But there is a distinction to be made, between demanding and dereliction of decision-making.  The former is to use a hammer; the latter is to posit a systematic methodology of courteously opening the door for recognizing the sunlight of “being right”.

For the Federal or Postal worker who wants to submit an effective Federal Disability Retirement application to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, remember that the concept of “jury nullification” applies only when the right to decide is somehow deemed improper or unsanctioned; but when it comes to a bureaucracy which possesses the sole power to decide, it is an inapplicable construct, and must be approached in a manner more akin to the grieving mother whose murderous son suddenly appears with a suit and tie for the first time in his hideous life, and speaks eloquently of his undying love for family and the victim upon whom he perpetrated his crime, and when the wink-and-nod between son and weeping mother remains unnoticed but for the love forged in treachery, justice yet smiles even in verdicts which betray the greater society.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Medical Separation & Retirement: Of self-expression in society

There exists a proportionate correlation if charted on a graph, between the rise of a need for greater self-expression and the alienation from the individual from a sense of belonging and community.  The human animal has an inner need for acceptance and comity within the context of societal cohesion, and this is no different from other species and their behavioral patterns, excepting the “lone wolf” characteristics where mating or predatory consummation represents the only points of contact.

The lines of the hypothetical graph would intersect somewhere at the level where the individual believes that personal identity has been lost and subsumed from a community detached and uncaring; notice, identity and self-worth are bundled together in an almost inextricable complexity within the human psyche, and that proverbial and pervasive “inner cry for help” becomes exponentially magnified when that alienation intensifies.

Focus upon a collective “self” by a society encumbered with economic woes, infringement upon base survival instincts, and a growing sense that reliance upon one another is no longer believable, leads to the downward spiral of the line which represents societal comity, where the trajectory suddenly drops precipitously in a straight, vertical manner.

Yet, the other line — the one which represents self-expression and a silenced cry for urgency of warmth and responsiveness, continues upward in a more gradual trend, with short and sudden spikes here and there, but still reflective of a desire to pull back, to harken with a perspective of the rear-view mirror, wanting and willing always to open one’s arms and embrace the roots of that tribal nature from whence we all originated.

But we are becoming more and more calloused; the time wasted, the ascending alienation as first reported by Camus and the French existentialists after the ashes of the Phoenix failed to rise from the funeral pyre of the war-torn devastation of Europe and the consequential bifurcation of nations within the greater context of a potential addendum holocaust involving nuclear weapons, and the subsequent inertia developed through wealth and artificial products which were marketed by means of media and mass distribution — from it all, discontent arose, the notion of life’s absurdity followed, and the greater need for self-expression formed.

Look at Facebook and the explosion of psychosis.  Look at the obsession with smart phones and the need to “update” one’s “profile”.  But always remember that self-expression must be contained, and appropriately conveyed.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must, by necessity, file 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, the vehicle of formulation in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to OPM, must have a certain restraint and self-limitation imposed.

Not every fact and fancy of opinion should be included in the Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

And, one must ask, how much of that self-expression exudes bravado and exaggeration?  And even after one has won one’s Federal Disability Retirement application, there may be a Medical Questionnaire which is issued by OPM, and if in the course of investigating further, there surfaces an indicia of some extreme form of activity such as bungee-jumping or similarly strenuous engagements which are “posted” for all viewers because of the need for “self-expression” — such a wanton cry for help may indeed come back to haunt.

Self-expression in a society replete with alienation and abandonment may, in the end, be all that we are left with; but for the Federal or Postal employee who wants to preserve and protect one’s Federal Disability Retirement annuity, it may be best to exert some semblance of self-control that is quickly diminishing and disappearing on the graph of the proverbial downward spiral.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Early Medical Retirement from Federal Government: Berkeley’s House

He was an Irishman, and if one were to “rank” philosophers, he would likely be considered a “second tier” thinker — not quite at the level of Plato, Aristotle, Descartes or Heidegger — but certainly contributed to the Western Philosophical tradition of engendering even greater questions than solving any problems or settling any queries.

A little tidbit which is not commonly known: Bishop Berkeley came to the United States and purchased a plantation at Middletown, intending upon living there, until his expectation of funding failed to be forthcoming.  That is probably what he is least known for; the Latin phrase for which he gains the greatest notoriety, is esse est percipi — to be, is to be perceived.

An absurd and uncharitable interpretation of this foundational phrase, would be to attribute to Berkeley the idea that things in the objective world exist only to the extent that we perceive them; the moment such perceptual pervasiveness disappears, then, existence becomes extinguished.

A more rational view of his postulate, however, is to attribute Berkeley to the tradition of British linguistic philosophers, and to consider the following “implied” but silent intentions:  “The definition of what it means to exist, can only have meaning if, and only if, there is a perceiver for which the object is there to be perceived, and as such, existence as a concept of any meaningful import must by necessity have a perceiver”.

Without this kinder, gentler version of interpretive connotations, all manner of ridicule and scoffing have been thrown at the good Bishop — in the form of:  “So, when I leave a room, does it vanish?  And when I return, does it suddenly reappear?”  And in the days of Star Trek:  “Beam me up, Scottie, or in philosophical circles, Bishop Berkeley”.

It is, in the end, the absurdity of linguistic interpretation which ultimately relegated Berkeley to the “second tier” of philosophical thought; and from that unintended consequences resulting from an attempt to resolve a complex issue of metaphysical discourse, we can learn and discern much:  complexity sometimes cannot be circumvented with simplicity of declarative assertion; often, there is a reason why such a conundrum of linguistic inelasticity exists.

Thus, for the Federal employee or U.S. Postal Service worker who is intending upon preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the key point here is that, yes, your case may be quite complex, but the route to making it comprehensible to the administrative specialist at OPM, is not to try and simplify the core essence of the case, but to state the complex in simple language.

That is often the greatest difficulty with a Federal or Postal applicant in preparing one’s Statement of Disability on Standard Form 3112A — the narrative in response to the various questions will often meander and fail to achieve a coherency because everything from Dickens’ childhood details (which, as you may recall, Salinger scoffed at in his famous work, The Catcher in the Rye) to peripheral issues involved EEO complaints and workplace harassment concerns are thrown in for good or seemingly better measure, when in fact a simplified version based upon good habits of editing would produce a more effective statement of compelling narration.

For, in the end, postulating a Federal Disability Retirement application is not a matter of compiling a voluminous or complex treatise for persuasive discourse; it is to tell a coherent story of one’s inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties with the Federal job or Postal position, and we need not defer to Berkeley’s House — whether as a historical tidbit or as the confounded thought processes extracted from his complex works — in order to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal OPM Disability Retirement application.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire