FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The performance fallacy

The disproportionality that occurs between reality and make-believe is nowhere more apparent than in the Federal sector involving performance reviews prepared for Federal employees across all agencies and departments: of being “fully successful” and having those “outstanding” appraisals year after year, and yet….  You don’t feel that such appraisals, despite the blush that it may evoke, reflects the reality of what you have been doing.

The body that warms a position, despite its declining productivity, is the one the Supervisor or Manager does not want to lose; for, to retain a known quantity is better than to lose one and gain an unknown one.

Then, of course, there is the reality of the Federal employee who experiences a deteriorating medical condition, and has come to a critical juncture and decision-making point of what is often referred to as a “Gestalt” moment, or that “Aha!” experience, where one comes upon the realization that one is not immortal; and despite being brought up on Star Wars, the “Force” and other fantasies that human frailty can be overcome by sheer will of the mind — that, disregarding all of that childhood nonsense, we are growing old and beset with medical conditions that remind us that we are no longer the spry chickens just hatched from the warmth of a hayloft beyond the red barn’s rooster call.

Then, there is the “performance fallacy” — somehow, no matter how terribly we feel; no matter the amount of recent sick leave taken, or LWOP requested, the appraisals continue to exceed our level of productivity.

Considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management under FERS?  You have the medical condition and, more importantly, the medical support to move forward.

Then, you pause because of the “performance fallacy” — the question being:  How can OPM approve a Federal Disability Retirement application if the performance appraisals continue to reflect the “outstanding” columns of productivity?  The short answer:  That is why the foundation of a case must be built upon a strongly-worded medical narrative, which implicitly rebuts and preemptively answers all such concerns, and that is where consulting with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law can be crucial to the successful outcome of a Federal Disability Retirement application.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: The futile treadmill

If an alien from another universe came to visit the world of Humans and somehow landed within sight of a gym or some semblance of a physical fitness facility, and remained invisible to the watchful eye, the single contraption that would puzzle and befuddle would be the treadmill.

For, ambulation upon the mechanical device would surely be observed; and upon a certain amount of time, the alien visitor would reflect that the person who remained upon the contraption would suddenly depart and actually go from Point A to Destination B, and so the puzzling conundrum of query might be: What in the world (or universe) was this person doing walking upon a revolving platform without going anywhere, then leaving it behind to then go somewhere?

All geared up with wires and headphones, with digital monitors that made beeping noises and flashing signals — but going nowhere; whereas the alien, who is dependent upon sophisticated time-warp technology in travel and transport, would consider the exertion of physical ambulation to be a primitive form of an inconvenience to reach a destination point, but would be quite enthralled by this act of futility upon a treadmill.

It is, indeed, an absurdity when one pauses and reflects: of a contraption that moves as if one is traveling, but without an individual who has any intent of reaching any particular destination point.  Or, what if the alien visitor were to view a randomly selected community from above — comfortably watching from its invisible spaceship hovering with telescopic devices — and sees the hundreds, nay, thousands of joggers and runners who begin from destination Point-A and…returns to destination Point-A.  Would that not similarly confound, confuse and befuddle?

From the perspective of the outsider, the futile treadmill has no purpose, no rationale, and certainly no cogent explanation that would account for the manner in which many of the human species behave.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are on a similarly futile treadmill — that of attempting to continue to work despite having a medical condition that tells you otherwise — it may be time to begin contemplating preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Federal Disability Retirement is precisely that benefit that is meant to get you off of the futile treadmill, and to begin to allow you to secure your future, as well as focus upon your health.  Getting off of the futile treadmill is the difficult part — of your dedication to your work and career; of the comfortable salary or wage that is being earned; and of the sense that, so long as you remain on the treadmill, somehow it will get you somewhere beyond the point of your medical condition.

Sometimes, however, the alien’s perspective is the more objective one, and remaining on the futile treadmill will continue to go nowhere or, worse, it may speed up and knock you off of the treadmill itself; then, what will you be left with?

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a daunting bureaucratic process, and the time is likely ripe to begin it now by consulting with a seasoned attorney specializing in Federal Disability Retirement law, lest the futile treadmill begins to leave you behind.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: Today’s tomorrow

Yesterday’s today is different from today’s today, just as tomorrow’s imaginary today will be considerably changed from the actual tomorrow of tomorrow.  How to test that theory?  Just read a book, a novel, a short story when you are a teenager, an adult, a “mature” person or in your old age – say, Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye or some other similar-type work, or even Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge or even a truer test like a children’s book — the classic Seuss series, The Cat in the Hat, etc.

Perspectives alter and become modified with time, age, experience and encounters with reality, bifurcating between the monster within one’s own imagination, the projection of fears, anxieties and trepidations, and the reality of the world that one finally engages.  The memories one holds of one’s childhood may soften and become tempered over time; the harshness of judgment one may hold of one’s parent’s – their actions, punishments meted, words spoken out of turn and thoughtlessly – may be modified as one becomes a parent as well and encounters the same difficulties, trials and tests; and so the yesterday experienced at the time may alter from the yesterday remembered and ensconced within the context of one’s own life experiences.

Today’s today, or course, is the reality we must always face, but of tomorrow’s tomorrow, can we set aside the suppress the anxieties and fears we project?  The real problem is almost always today’s tomorrow –  of that projection into the future, not yet know, surrounded by the anticipation of what we experience today, fear for tomorrow and tremble at because of all of the various factors and ingredients of the unknown.  Yes, it is today’s tomorrow that we fear most.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition begins to prevent the ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it is the tomorrow that we consider and ponder upon today that makes for the fears to arise, the anxieties to develop and the trembling to occur.

How best to treat today’s tomorrow?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must consider 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, the first step towards assuaging the fears projected unto tomorrow before tomorrow arrives, is by taking affirmative steps today in order to prepare for tomorrow, and that first step is to consult with an expert in the field of Federal Disability Retirement.

For, today’s tomorrow will come sooner than tomorrow’s today’s blink of an eye and bypass yesterday’s today in the memories of a childhood steeped in tomorrow’s yesterday.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire



Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: Working to preclude

Aren’t most of us perennially, incessantly, constantly and by chronic despair in that “emergency mode” of operating through life?

We are working to preclude: Some imagined disaster; some trouble just around the corner; some depth of a hole we cannot dig ourselves out of; and some problem that we are thinking about that is developing that we are not yet aware of.  Few of us actually work with a positive attitude to build; fewer still with a confidence that tomorrow will bring some answers; and rarely, of that person who does not work to preclude.  Caution is the mainstay of a troubled past that left a child anxious, uncertain, self-conscious and entirely lacking of self-confidence.

That is why that wide arc of “self-esteem” training that began to spread about in the classrooms and throughout communities took hold – in the false belief if we just kept saying to a child, “You are worthy” or poured accolades and trophies just for showing up, that somehow we would counteract the deep imprints left upon the cuts and scars that were perpetrated by homes of divorce, emotional devastation and incompetent parents.

Working to preclude is often a form of sickness; it is the constant scrambling to try and play prevent defense, and how often have we seen an NFL game where the team that scores first and many times ends up losing because they spent the rest of the game working to preclude?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are suffering 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, the constant effort in working to preclude the Federal Agency from putting you on a Performance Improvement Plan (acronym “PIP”), issuing a letter of warning, or proposing a removal based upon excessive absenteeism, being on LWOP for too long, or for poor performance, leaves a hollow feeling of an uphill battle that can never ultimately be won.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a step away from working to preclude – it is, instead, a positive first step towards securing a future that is otherwise as uncertain as one’s efforts in working to preclude.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Disability Retirement Representation: Trains of life

There are trains that come and go daily; others, with lengthy destinations, like the Trans-Siberian Express traveling from Moscow to Vladivostok or the Venice-Simplon Orient Express visiting Paris, Venice, Istanbul, and places in-between; and others merely for the monotony of going to work and coming home.

Those who engage the latter often find that vacations utilizing trains are boring and uninviting; yet, for others who struggle through the vehicular traffic jams by rush-hour standards prefer it because you neither have to man the controls nor keep your focus upon the roads to avoid those who are inattentive to the rules of the road.

Relaxation takes many forms, multiple definitions and countless contextual feeds; we are all different, as are the trains of life.  Where it is going; the ticket we purchase; whether we have boarded the “right” train; whether the mistake was made at the ticket office or our lack of identifying the proper one to take; and, if the wrong one, can we still enjoy the scenic view or do we become consumed by the direction we are being taken?

What if we boarded the wrong train, but it turns out that the direction it is taking us fulfills every hope and dream we ever desired – do we still get off at the next stop, or do we muster courage enough to remain still and enjoy the view?  What if we stepped onto the “right” train, but knowing that we don’t really want to go that way, realizing that it has always been a mistake and nevertheless do so with reluctance and dread – do we force ourselves to continue on the journey despite our unhappiness and angst of drudgery?

Or, take it a step further – what if we buy a ticket, board a train and realize that it is not the right one expected, but upon being asked by the ticket-taker mid-trip, the official – whether intentionally or by lack of observance – makes no comment, punches the proper hole and moves on; do we sit with gleeful quietude and just let the train take us where we did not intend but are happy to experience?

That is often how life works – of trains that we intend to board, sometimes mistakenly take, and otherwise inadvertently travel upon; and that is how a Federal or Postal employee suffering from a medical condition should view filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Sometimes, the ticket fails to match the trip; other times, while the intended destination corresponds perfectly, there is a “mishap” on the trip itself.

Perhaps the Federal or Postal employee never expected a medical condition; so be it, but plans for the ongoing train of life must nevertheless be made.  Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is the next step where a Federal career must end because the Federal or Postal employee can no longer perform all of the essential element of one’s Federal or Postal position.

For, as the trains of life may be many, choosing the right “ticket” while waiting to board is just as important as identifying the train that will take you to the intended destination.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Disability Retirement: The Myth of Upward Progression

We like to think that life is represented by a linear curve of upward progression; in reality, most of us reach an apex, then remain static and content in the late summer years of our lives.  There is nothing wrong with such a state of affairs; as contentment and comfort embrace a spectrum of stability, so the refusal of change and resistance to vicissitude are not indicators of laziness, as once thought in former days of youth where transition, sacrifice and relinquishment of stability were necessary for purposes of future advancement.

Most of us, within a defined minefield of progress and regress, remain within an invisible glass casing of immobility.  Perhaps there is a major financial setback in a given year; or, a promotion or cash incentive award had not been achieved; but in the year following, or the next beyond, it is attained; or an unexpected windfall allows for greater stability least anticipated and most gratifying.

In a sense, we delude ourselves.  But so long as we remain within a constancy of comfort, where an appearance of major retrogression cannot be palpably discerned, contentment prevails, and the bother of breaking new grounds, moving to a larger house, taking on greater responsibilities, adding to headaches and stresses, can be quietly forsaken, left with the self-satisfaction that quietude is a byproduct of a goal once sought for, and achieved without fanfare or celebration.  It is when the bounds of contentment are scattered, the barriers of satisfaction crumbling, when the call to action is suddenly a turmoil of exoneration, and peace as shattered glass stepped upon in bare feet of bleeding souls, that affirmative movement must then be spurred, leaving behind those spurned opportunities once thought cumbersome.

Medical conditions have a tendency to create such circumstances of unrest.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suddenly find that the chaos of inchoate situations developing because of a chronic and progressively deteriorating medical condition impacts upon the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the possibility and need for filing 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, becomes a reality which disturbs and perturbs the quietude of living contentedly.

When a medical condition disrupts that glass bowl of satisfaction, the myth of upward progression becomes shattered, because suddenly all that one has worked to achieve may be in doubt.

Most of us are happy to just find that small oasis within the turbulent oceans of insanity we designate as “civilized society”; but for the Federal or Postal employee who must contend with a medical condition such that the medical condition threatens the very foundation of one’s hard-fought dreams and desultory circumstances, consideration needs to be given to preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, if only to resist the temptation that static circumstances are a foregone conclusion, or that the myth of upward progression cannot be defeated by planning for the next great adventure in this, a universe of turbulence of unexpected turmoil.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire