Attorney Representation Federal Disability Retirement: Law’s efficacy

When is “the law” effective?  Especially when speaking about an administrative procedure such as filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset – what role does “the law” play in its procedural and substantive aspects?

Multiple distinctions are made on a daily basis with respect to the law’s efficacy; whether something is “legal” or not does not always mean that it is enforceable, for the costs associated may be prohibitively expensive.  To have a “legal right” does not always mean that one should necessarily assert it, for there may be practical considerations that come into play before moving forward with applying that which is rightfully existent.

Further, the mere fact that the law may be “on the books” may not necessarily mean that a society will always raise it up from the dead and apply it; for, as customs and normative constraints alter, modify and become transformed by evolution of thought, it may well be that dogs best left sleeping are the ones who are never bothered.

In Administrative Law – which Federal Disability Retirement issues are a part of – there is always the question as to what role, significant, relevant or somewhat in between, “the law” plays, as many steps throughout the procedure and process must deal with non-lawyers who have no clue as to the existence, force or applicability of legal matters.

Thus, should the “Bruner Presumption” be argued at the initial stage of a Federal Disability Retirement application even though the administrative specialist who is reviewing the Federal Disability Retirement application may have no clue about its impact, doesn’t much care and will likely not give much thought to its contextual relevance?

Does Bracey v. OPM matter when discussing the finer points of issues pertaining to accommodations and reassignment, or is that merely some esoteric legal argument that should be reserved for the Third Stage of the process, if and when a Federal Disability Retirement application is denied twice (both at the Initial Stage of the process, as well as at the Second, Reconsideration Stage) and is appealed to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board and comes before an Administrative Judge?

Should Simpkins versus OPM always be argued for Veterans with Service-connected ratings, no matter what the ratings are comprised of?

The law’s efficacy is ultimately determined not necessarily by the quantitative bombardment of effective methodological argumentation, but by the qualitative selectiveness of who to argue to, when to argue and for what purpose.  In the end, law’s efficacy is a strategic component that may determine the successful or otherwise outcome of a Federal Disability Retirement application, and should be considered thoughtfully and with great preparation.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Plato and Play-Doh

If a person says to another, “Have you used Play-Doh” and he answers, “Well, yes, but only as it applies to certain situations in my life.  Otherwise, I tend to rely upon Aristotle in a more pragmatic, scientific approach.”

Somewhat taken aback, the inquiring mind restates his position, saying, “No, no, I meant, have you played with Play-Doh?” Still not distinguishing between the inserted alternative of a consonant (the “D” in Play-Doh as opposed to the “t” in Plato), the responding individual states again, “Well, conceptually Plato is difficult to ‘play with’, as you state it, in that you have to first understand the conceptual paradigms he posits, then…” and the same person goes on to provide a full-fledged, half hour dissertation on the esoteric aspects of a Dead White Irrelevant Philosopher (otherwise known by the acronym, a “DWIP”).

At this point, frustrated, the inquisitive interrogator walks away, throwing his hands up in complete confusion and befuddlement.  What does one do?  How is the incommensurate encounter resolved?  Question: Does the fact that we “hold” in the base of our minds a certain spelling of a word make a difference as to intent and deliberative motive, when what we “speak” out into the objective world makes the receptor of the word, phrase or sentence interpret it as something different from that image that we behold in our minds?

How does one close the chasm between subjective thoughts and objective reality?  Do we approach it in a different way – and does the problem really remain in the subjective domain of the questioning individual insofar as he or she is unable to, incapable of, or otherwise unwilling to alter the originating course of his posited query?

In other words, shouldn’t the person have restated his conceptual query in the following manner: “Oh, I see.  You must have misunderstood.  I am talking about ‘Play-Doh’ – the clay-like substance that we all used to play with as children, and I thought I saw some when I visited your house the other day.”  To which the responder should appropriately state, “Ah, I see now.  You must excuse me. I am concurrently reading Plato’s Dialogues and I mistook your question to be referring to that.”

It is, then, the capacity to listen carefully, to recognize the response given, then to respond back appropriately and relevantly that often dissipates any compelling reason to become frustrated.

Similarly, for Federal and Postal employees who are attempting to respond to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s subsequent queries, or even in response to the Statement of Disability’s questions (SF 3112A) that need to be answered, the Federal or Postal employee who is attempting to formulate an effective Federal Disability Retirement application must take care in bridging that gap between subjective reality and objective communication.

There are many “tricks” to the “trade”, and OPM has probably dealt with them all; but the one trick that OPM cannot ultimately ignore, is the tricky web of legal precedents and prior MSPB and Federal Circuit Court decisions that compel them to act in ways that they cannot forego.  Legal argumentation is an art form that should not be ignored, and whether you are asking about Plato or Play-Doh, remember always to include in any Federal Disability Retirement application an effective legal argument that persuasively argues the legal precedents applicable in your case.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Knowing where to stop

In life, it is often just as important in knowing where one is going, as it is to recognizing where to stop.  We all know the individual with “a mission” – always self-confident, never tentative, and rarely pausing to catch one’s breath except to regain one’s composure before blindly forging ahead with uninterrupted fortitude and resolve.  Military men and women are like that; born leaders and megalomaniacs follow suit; and only the timid bear the brunt of being pushed aside and trampled upon.  Overreaching is a problem in a society that knows only excess and limitless pleasure.  In the midst of being human, we forget our own humanity.

In the history of Philosophy, Rationalism has been usurped by Idealism; the latter, superseded by the reality of human depravity, and science the victor in the tension between theology and pragmatism.  In the end, Darwinian declarations of equality among the species have come to prevail, and in the post-Existential era of seeking merely pleasure above purpose, and the more modern parlance of embracing the “Happiness Principle” – where one’s minute-by-second assessment of one’s emotional quotient has trumped obligation, duty, convention and rational essence of an Aristotelian definition of Man – we now have no boundaries, no social conventions of constraints, and so long as we can avoid violating the basic laws that govern our society, we can do what we want.

In such a state, society and civilization, how can we know where to stop?  If everything is okay to do, how do we determine that which may harm ourselves, or otherwise breach the boundaries of decency and what it means to be human?  If all species are of equal value, then what worth is there in having humanity?  How do we know where to stop?  This applies, as well, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Often not knowing all the current laws that govern Federal Disability Retirement Law, the initiating applicant will proceed forth and barrel ahead like Military men and women and born leaders, without first consulting a lawyer who is knowledgeable about OPM Disability Retirement Law.  For, never underestimate the underlying principles behind questions posed on a Federal Disability Retirement application – especially as it relates to one’s medical condition and the impact upon one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s official position.

SF 3112A can be a landmine of sorts, and while it is well and good to proceed in a forthright and affirmative manner, it is equally as important in knowing where to stop, as it is in realizing the direction the Federal or Postal employee must go in order to file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Postal & Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Of venal and venial injustice

That a single vowel can radically alter the meaning of a word is not surprising; rather, it is the simplicity of the reduction – from one constituting an onerous sense of the corrupt, to a mere insignificance of action – that demarcates the chasm of definitional differences between the two.  Both are adjectives; but of the former,  often associated with corruption involving bribery and characterized by a mercenary motive, while the latter is of a pardonable offense, minor on a scale of wrongdoings, and merely bordering on the barely noticeable spectrum of sins acknowledged – it is the difference of the singular vowel – the “i” which constitutes the reflection back upon the personal “I” who acts upon the violation that determines whether the offense is minor or major, that divides the two.

The originating context of a venal act almost always involved corruption relating to an exchange of consideration – and, for whatever reason, it was that underlying motive of engaging in an act of illegality for the sake of money, that exhibited a greater evil by the participant.  Perhaps such an origin of retreating repulsiveness is Biblical – of that treachery committed in exchange for the thirty pieces of silver.  Translated into English, the personal pronoun inserted in lower caps in the middle of the word, stuck between two consonants, evinces a guilty conscience inflamed deep within the troubled recesses of a soul’s agony.  And what of the noun which the adjective modifies – does it add, amend, enhance or otherwise alter?

Injustice is a malleable concept.  Words were once confined by strict adherence to meanings; no more, as society has allowed for the gymnasts of linguistic pole-vaulting to tinker unabatedly.  As the negation of the root term “justice”, it has become recognized as any feeling of unfairness encountered, as opposed to the more concrete embodiment of society’s clear mandate in a process of upholding a morally superior stance, confirmed by age-old rules and procedures, inviolate as reflected in the symbolism of a blindfolded lady impervious to the winds of bias, prejudice or venal means.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal Service worker who is daily being bombarded with harassing conduct by the agency or the U.S. Postal Service, both forms of injustices are encountered:  Venal injustice, at the hands of an agency which may be plotting to dismiss and terminate; and venial injustice, at the daily toil of enduring slights and demeaning whispers by coworkers, supervisors and others unnamed.

Medical conditions occur through no fault of the Federal or Postal worker suffering from them; yet, Federal agencies and U.S. Postal Service employees treat such Federal and Postal workers as mere fodder for committing injustices otherwise unaccounted for.  Perhaps there is a heaven where ultimate justice prevails and where venal sins and venial acts are sifted between to determine who is issued a valid passport for migration through those pearly gates; but, until then, there is the option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, and where obtaining an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is neither a venal act, nor a mere venial outcome, but an injustice turned around for the Federal or Postal worker who cannot otherwise perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The din of distant darkness

There are often foreboding signs which we conveniently ignore.  In retrospect, how often do we hear of the lament of disregard?  “I never thought…”; “I heard the sound, but –“; “There were some indications, but I just assumed…”  Yet, later, we recognize those telltale footprints, and wonder why the creaking floorboards or the muffled murmur did not raise the cautionary instincts repressed by urge of avoidance.  If we were paid a dollar for every instance where…

Like Jim Croce’s remorseful song, if time could be saved in a bottle from every occurrence of wasteful distraction spent trying to figure out things which could otherwise be discerned through careful analysis, the extent of cumulative superciliousness in trying to act offended or incensed by charges of ineptitude might be reasonably contained.  There is so much noise, these days, that a fresh uptick in the volume of an additional din is barely noticeable.  And when then sound of emitted discordance strums a beat in the distance, who but the expectant and anxious parent recognizes the unique cry of a child’s shrill scream of alarm?

And if the sound is merely likened to darkness, where light no longer creeps between the door left ajar, or the seam between the floor and the locked metal gate, then how are we to recognize the silence of strangled light left abandoned in the loneliness of a world uncaring?

The din of distant darkness is precisely that foreboding sense of what may happen, but based upon “something”, as opposed to a baseless muttering of convictions unfounded when we suddenly “lose it” and cannot extricate ourselves from the frenzy of our own lies.  Much of life is about lying – not necessarily to others (although, we do that often enough, as well), but more to ourselves in order to shield our own fragile psyche from the fears we want to avoid.  But even darkness seen in the distant horizon comes creeping towards us, whether we want it to, or not.

How we nestle in the fears of our own making, or struggle against the timeless reverberations of anxieties unstated and never confessed, is the foundation of what makes for successful living, or failed attempts to conceal the cacophony of numbing onslaughts of life.  Yes, the din of distant darkness is yet merely a warning some months, years or decades away; but for Federal and Postal employees who already have a sense of what is coming, and the inevitability of life’s misgivings, the indicators are probably already there:  a medical condition that will not go away; the intersecting impact between the medical condition and the ability to perform the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position; and the question:  How long can I last?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to start considering the process of preparing 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, the din of distant darkness should never be avoided; for, in the end, it will come upon you like a thief in the night, stealthily, and without regard, just as your agency and closest coworkers and supervisors will turn the other eye even when the oncoming rush is about to hit you in a sudden fit of uncaring actions.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Trading places

Long before the 2008 debacle of economic turmoil; preceding epic movies following, of the lavish ineptitude of miscreants awash in money’s sale of souls in exchange for the temporal pleasures of limitless fantasies; when laughter could be heard yet, because the future still held some hope, there was a movie by the same title.  It was a comedy of innocence – although, the language used may still blush for some, it reveals a period long gone and no longer found in today’s society where revealing all, telling everyone and showing unabashedly have become the normative course of behavior.

Unlike the reality of Wall Street’s mechanism of manipulation, the storyline follows a fairly conventional discourse of moral constancy – of identifiable evil; revenge and retribution for wrongs committed; redemption for those whose failings resulted from unseemly characters.  Contrast that with the fictional depictions of today, some mere several decades hence:  the unjust are left unpunished, or barely so; the miscreants are bailed out from their own folly and greed; and the Mom & Pop store just around the corner is still left wondering why they were never rescued from bankruptcy, when the very ones who created the economic crisis are back at it, again.

The problem with discussing such issues on a macro-scale, of course, is that generalities invite sweeping statements of inane and excusable tendencies, whereas kitchen-table, microcosmic tales of individual narratives leave no room for such averted cover of hidden devices, where rats and other scoundrels may scurry to find convenient places to conceal their shameful misdeeds.

We often wish that we, too, could “trade places”, but only because we fail to listen to the details of troubles faded on lawns across the street where the grass appears greener, but where the internal turmoil of ghosts hidden remain veiled.

Medical conditions have a way of bringing us all back to the basics of living.  For, when one is healthy, all sorts and manner of wishing for fortunes and superficiality of life’s extras are engaged; but when a medical condition hits, all that we desire is for the boredom of good health.  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 the Federal or Postal employee’s position of formal occupation (as reflected on an SF 50 or PS Form 52), understand this concept all too well.

Trading places is all relative, especially when it comes to the basics of human happiness.  For Louis Winthorpe III and Billy Ray Valentine, it happened that fate brought two unlikely characters together to right the wrongs of a macroeconomic system left to manipulative devices on the commodities trading floor; for the Federal and Postal employee who suffers 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 positional duties, the desire to “trade places” is somewhat more basic – of mere good health in order to maintain a constancy of life’s pleasures taken for granted by others.

But, instead, often the best option for trading places is to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  Sometimes, the trade itself is a compromise on a micro-scale of lesser proportions, and not within the complex world of high finance and commodities exchanges.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: Masking of Fate

It is still perhaps appropriate at the time of this writing, to consider masks and costumes, as Halloween, or All Hallows’ Eve lingers is just over.  It is a celebratory time; and whether of religious significance or origins discovered in the medieval Gaelic folklore long lost but in remaining songs and ballads sung sweetly without instrumentality or electronic mixing, the tradition of putting on a disguise, concealing one’s face with a mask of another’s soul continues.

It is doubtful that the meaning behind such traditions are ever discussed or believed in; we live in a time when the pinnacle of belief is comprised of nihilism and disbelief; and so the request for alms or a few pieces of candy “on behalf of” a soul departed, is not the foundation as to why a disguise is embraced.  It is, instead, to “have fun” – which is a valid enough reason and rationale in and of itself, though such a goal is not exclusive to also engaging in the activity with a knowledge of why, where we came from, or what we are living for.

The medieval practice of mumming or souling have clearly lost their roots of meaningful efficacy; and with virtual reality overtaking the imagination of modern childhood, there is little room left for the spirit-world of other dimensions, even if we could bring ourselves to believe in them.  Materialism has deadened the parallel universes of fantasy and imagination; the moon smiling can be explained by craters and ridgelines of impervious rocks.  Costumes and masks merely reflect a world already dead; they are not put on for disguise on behalf of souls departed, but merely a put-on to justify laughter, lost innocence and untoward sadness.

Perhaps, by keeping a tradition alive, there will be the possibility of hope, that the meaningfulness of that which is preserved will have a flickering light of potentiality.  But, then, that would mean that elves, gnomes and goblins may still lurk behind hidden corridors of timeless imaginations.

Fate masked is to conceal nothing; it is only when there is a face behind the mask that the mask has any real value; but if the face concealed no longer possesses value, what is the worth of the mask itself?  It merely echoes the truth of Lear’s admonition to Cordelia that, “Nothing will come of nothing.”  There have always been masks to conceal, but worn on occasions recognized for specified events, where all can engage in the fun of hidden meanings; it is the mask of daily veil, however, that should instill terror in the hearts and souls of the living.  For, it is that smile dispossessed; the disarming wink; the open expression of camaraderie; yet, once the back is turned, the sharpened knives are unsheathed for selective display of unstated purposes.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the question often posed is:  When should I?  The missing addendum to such a general question is multiple:  When should I file (as soon as possible, as the process to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement benefit is long and arduous); When should I inform my agency or the U.S. Postal Service (not until the time of filing, unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise); When should I take off this masking of fate?

As to this last question – well, perhaps when the Federal Disability Retirement application is finally prepared and ready for filing; for, that is the time when the point of pain, anguish and the hollow eyes impounded by a medical condition may begin to repair themselves for the trading dawn away from the daily drudgery of the mask that conceals.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire