Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Ends and beginnings

It is the linear manner in which we perceive the world; of straight lines as opposed to circular figures; of two points or perhaps three, then again lines of intersection and connecting the dots, instead of arcs that waver and detour beyond the directional certainty of point A to Point B and beyond.  “Ends” we recognize by the symphony that crescendos and the credits that scroll down and display the accomplishments unto the “Assistant to the Assistant director of Operational Assistants”; or, at least when the black screen declares, “The End”.

And of beginnings?  Other than the first breath taken, the consummation of love’s forlorn initial encounters and the memories of childhoods harkening back to hazy summer evenings that may be real or mixed with what was told about you when you were young; perhaps beginnings can never be ascertained with as much certainty as the endings that suddenly come upon us.

We tend to bifurcate our lives with straight and intersecting lines; “Here is when X happened”; “Over there, that is when Y began.”

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who began their careers with the hopes and dreams of all who enter the workforce, full of vigor and enthusiasm, coopted by the “mission of the agency” or the team spirit reinforced by the accolades given in performance reviews, bonuses granted and promotions within sight of tomorrow – the slow deterioration of a medical condition can come to one’s realization as a devastating recognition that an “end” is coming, without the concomitant accompaniment of the clear “beginning” to follow.

Where does something “end”, and something else “begin”?

Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management because the Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position is indeed an “end” of sorts, but it must also be viewed as an important “beginning”.

It is the beginning of attending to the priorities of life; of starting to focus upon one’s health and well-being; of recognizing that others at the Federal agency or the Postal service have seen the “end” of your career.

Yet, perspectives matter, and how we view things do make a difference, and it is the “beginnings” that come after the “end” that matters.  For, the “Assistant to the Assistant director of Operational Assistants” hopefully did not end his or her career with that final credit noted at the end of that B-rated movie; hopefully, he became the director of Operational Assistants, or perhaps the director himself or herself.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire



Civil Service Disability Retirement: The value of properly preparing

Each and every stage of a Federal Disability Retirement process is important to view in the preparation of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  You cannot take any stage of the process in a vacuum; for example, answering SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, in and of itself forces one to consider stages beyond the Initial Stage of the process.

Questions to ask:  Are you bound by your answers without the possibility of further amendments to the narrative delineation you submit?  Can changes, amendments, additions be made even after a CSA/Case number is assigned by Boyers, Pennsylvania and sent on its way to Washington, D.C. for an initial assessment and determination by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management?  What if, in the meantime, a “new diagnosis” is provided, one which has not been included in the original Statement of Disability?

Should the language used in describing one’s medical conditions and the impact upon one’s positional duties and inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job be elastic enough to allow for greater content at a later date, or should it be concise, precise and without room for maneuver or wiggle?  To what extent will prioritizing of diagnosed descriptions be used, either for or against, one’s Federal Disability Retirement, and are there consequences in submitting a non-sequential order of non-prioritized conditions, whether in terms of a spectrum from severity of pain or relevance based upon conditions recognized to be “serious” as opposed to secondary, more exacerbated-based symptoms that are considered corollaries more than central conditions?

To view the world from a perspective of bifurcated and compartmentalized episodes, where each circumstance of life has no impact or connection to any other, results from the insularity of lives we lead.  But reality forces upon us the realization (note the close connection of the two words – reality and realization) that our own mental insularity does not impose a compelling argumentation upon the objective world; instead, we continue to delude ourselves into thinking one way, while the universe goes on and exists with impervious fortitude until the two contradict and ultimately clash.

For Federal employees and U.S. Post workers who try and defy the universe by ignoring the reality of preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, and further, by attempting to sidestep the methodology of analytical determinations made by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the onus is on you:  take care that you consider preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application carefully and with full view as to the value of knowledge and information, lest it come back to haunt you with a denial because you did not foresee the burden of proof.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


FERS Disability Retirement Application: The tools we have for use

The foundation is always “all-important”; but there are other tools at one’s disposal, and the question is:  Do we know and recognize what those tools are, and if not, how can we use them out of ignorance?

How does SSDI intersect with FERS Disability retirement – not the issue of offsetting the concurrent payments after approval of each (that is merely a monetary calculation that has nothing to do with getting a FERS Disability Retirement application approved); rather, should an approval of an SSDI application have a legal impact upon a FERS Disability Retirement?  How about a denial – but one with a statement in the SSDI denial letter acknowledging that the FERS Disability Retirement applicant is unable to perform the duties of his current/former employment, but may be able to do “other employment”?

How should a mixed removal be utilized to its most effective manner?  If a person is removed partly for his or her medical inability to perform the essential functions of the job, but also because of AWOL issues or excessive LWOP usage, does it undermine the application and efficacy of a Bruner Presumption argument?

What should be done with a Department of Veterans Affairs rating?  Is it always persuasive, never determinative?  Even if persuasive, should it always be introduced, or is discretion the better part of valor – or, in the case of a FERS Disability Retirement application, the better part of value in using it as “proof” for a Federal Disability Retirement application?  Should medical documentation be indiscriminately submitted?

In other words, in a FERS Disability Retirement application, does the FERS Disability applicant have any rights as to dissemination of medical documentation, especially those portions which do not go to the substantive centrality of one’s claim in requesting a Federal Disability Retirement approval?  To what extent can the FERS Disability Retirement applicant and his/her attorney have the right to act as the “gatekeeper” in providing sensitive medical documentation to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management?

Tools – we have them; but of what use, efficacy or relevance are they, if they are left in reserve without pragmatic utilization?  And, as to the “reserve” – should the FERS Disability Retirement applicant keep in tow any of the tools, or should they all be used in an aggregate, cumulative powerhouse of aggressive and forceful argumentation?

Tools – to have them is one thing; to use, another; but more than that, to know what to use, when, how, and to what applicable relevance; that is the power behind the inertness of that which can be enlivened by knowledge, information and discretionary utilization.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: The Soul’s need for silence

If the world was merely one constant clatter, would we be able to stand the din of life?  Just as existence needs nothingness in order to have the separation of meaningful discourse, and as sentences need grammatical pauses (except in the cases of Faulkner and Joyce, perhaps), so the soul requires silence in the face of difficulties uninterrupted.

Medical conditions create havoc in lives; at first, perhaps just an annoyance or a nuisance, and the natural inclination is to rely upon the past that we know, and how – in remembrance of youthful vigor and quick rebounding and recuperation by mere strength and steely reserve – we were always able to ignore the pain, get past the turmoil and move beyond the anxious feelings of panic and depressive symptoms.  “It will pass,” we tell ourselves.  But then the long-view sets in; it is not merely a passing season, nor even a brief interlude of a cold north wind.

Instead, like the clinging vine that keeps coming back despite digging and chopping at the base of its roots, the chronic nature of the medical condition tells us that, as the unwelcomed uncle or aunt who has no other home and stays with you “just for a little while”, you cannot get beyond the season of pain and the intercession of turmoil.  It becomes a constancy, a persistence, a monotony of unsettled disquietude.  It is as if the soul’s search for silence finds only a din of unending noises as you search behind door after door for a room where relief and quietude may long for a bit of peace.

Souls need silence; silence allows for the interruption from din and darkness.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from the dual attacks brought on by a medical condition – of increasing workplace harassment as well as the loss of the soul’s quietude and peace – there comes a time when preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, becomes as necessary from a medical standpoint, as it is for the soul’s inner health.

Federal Disability Retirement is a means to an end – a recognition that the Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to produce at the level of acceptability, and a tolerance for allowing that same Federal or Postal employee to “move on” so that a basic retirement annuity can be obtained, and yet remain productive for the future in the private sector, where the (now former) Federal or Postal employee may make up to 80% of what one’s former job currently pays, on top of the amount of Federal Disability Retirement annuity.

It is also the allowance and recognition of another important factor – that the soul’s need for silence is a necessary component in the midst of din and darkness.


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