Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: Moments of clarity

There are those moments, aren’t there?  It may come as a flash, in the middle of the night, while walking quietly in the woods (or in one’s back yard, pretending that it is in the middle of somewhere’s nowhere, despite the loud humming of lawn mowers and air blowers whoosh-whooshing in the distant yonder over the fence beyond); and it need not be because of some eureka moment or because of problems faced and meditated upon.

There are moments of clarity in life, and they may be identified and described in various ways – of periods of inspiration; of a heated splice of madness; an awakening from a dream despite lack of sleep.  Or, perhaps a spark of genius came about.  A childhood memory, a dream once vanquished, a feeling of regret later in one’s life; these are the crumbs that gather in the corner of the dinner table, left behind like the ghostly apparitions of yesteryear’s hopes and unfulfilled cannibals of thoughtless mimes; and yet they can haunt or stir.

Such moments of clarity can bring about change; or, we can repress, suppress and ignore them, and allow them to wither away like flowers left in the pot of life’s mish-mash of events, and slowly they die, weakened by lack of care and ignorance of beauty.  Medical conditions themselves can bring about such moments of clarity; of the futility of trying to maintain appearances, and instead of facing a reality that is sharpened by pain, anguish and society’s definition of what it means to be productive.

Health is indeed a gift; poor health, or deteriorating health, brings about a different kind of gift – one that sometimes allows for those moments of clarity.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition brings about a realization that the Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to carry on as before, and that preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is now a necessity, it may well be that such a conclusion of a necessary change in one’s life came about because of one of those “moments of clarity”.

Don’t ignore it, as it may not come about again.

Instead, like warnings, clues and prognostications of impending necessities, the need to listen carefully to one’s health and mind may be just a moment of clarity that your body is simply telling you something.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: If not X, then at least Y

Many such contingent annotations are in the form of:  If not illegal, then at least unethical; or, if not unethical, then at least lacking of propriety, etc.  It is the pathway to a lesser acceptance, where the focus of one’s aspiration is lowered because of the inevitability of discovering that evidence insufficient will be uncovered.  Thus can one go on ad infinitum in various but similar forms:  If not happiness, then at least some semblance of contentment; if not a soul mate, then at least someone to share my experiences with, etc.

But what if that “replacement” standard turns out to be less than acceptable over time, through duration of toleration, and during cold nights when boredom no longer excites in playing pinochle while the kids are asleep?  Or, if the infractions and constant infringements persist with no end in sight, and no appropriate definition of a violation such that there are penalties to be ascribed and consequences to be felt?  Do we then accept an even lesser paradigm, and if so, how do we know that such diminution and diminishment of acceptance won’t again be averted and avoided?  Thus, do we assert:  If not X, then at least Y; but if Y doesn’t work out, then at least Z; and so on?  When first one submits to the acceptance of a lesser standard, the proverbial horserace has already been lost.

In negotiations, in contractual disputes, in attempting to come to terms, etc., the sign first evidenced of conceding the lesser standard is the first indicator that the slippery-slope has just begun.   There are instances, of course, where the opposite is true, as well, except that we can rarely discern beneath the surface appearances.  That is what Federal and Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of the Federal or Postal employee’s positional duties, must face and accept daily – the conflict between an aspirational paradigm of hope, and the reality of daily pain and anguish.

Thus, for the Federal or Postal employee, we have:  If there is lesser pain today, perhaps I can last through the day; If I show that I am productive this week, then maybe the supervisor will just leave me alone, etc.  As if, “lasting through the day”, or just “being left alone” for a week, a day, an hour, etc., are acceptable standards for living life?  That is why abandonment of all prior paradigms must often be employed in the journey of life, career and fortitude of endurance; we tend to cling on to categories of an “ought” no longer applicable.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who can no longer endure the acceptance of the lesser standard when there is an alternative to the constant suffering and persistent harassment at the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, fortunately, there is the ongoing benefit of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity.  Even for that, the road is still difficult and arduous, for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the agency that determines all disability retirement applications, does not merely “hand out” the benefit.  Like everything else in life, it must be fought for.

But, then, the Federal or Postal worker who fights for a Federal Disability Retirement benefit can retrospectively declare:  “If not the constant and daily struggle, then at least an annuity to secure my future” – the “exception” to the rule, where the lesser is in fact the greater, but is not always apparently so.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Life We Perceive

The state of having an epistemological privilege in the first-person singular, means that we occupy a unique position of knowledge, cognition, perception and viewpoint.  Concurrently, however, we must recognize and acknowledge that others have a similarly extraordinary vantage point, and that no matter how hard we may try, we will never truly understand the depth and complexity of the “others” who surround us, whom we encounter, and who pass by our field of vision in the greater context of life’s coincidences and happenstance meetings.

That we may never be able to fully understand another human being is not a sin; that we fail to care to at any given moment, is merely a fault; but that we callously disregard despite indicators of greater suffering and turmoil so evident that the trembling whispers of human frailty touch upon tears of sorrow, shows a misuse of that unique position of epistemological privilege.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Postal or Federal job, the impact is such that one must often consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and thus to end early one’s chosen career in the Federal sector.

One would expect, despite the unique position of epistemological privilege which everyone occupies, that some semblance of empathy or caring could, or should, be expected.  Instead, the Federal or Postal employee in the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits often encounters greater resistance and bureaucratic turmoil than statistically experienced in other similar administrative endeavors; and can this be attributed to mere mathematical calculus of acceptable differentials?

It is doubtful, because it is precisely in the recognition that perversity of intent is also found uniquely in the human animal, and even in cases of suffering and trauma, when medical conditions clearly present to the life we perceive a state of grief greater than simple sympathy, but beyond pain, suffering and turmoil of body and mind; even then, the complexities of jealousy, envy, spite and cruelty, overwhelms the soul who knows not the inner depths of depravity within the human makeup.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Disability Retirement: Reversal of Fortune

Life itself rarely reflects a steady, linear progression on a graph; the zig-zagging representing times of economic turmoil more accurately profiles a person’s span of existence.  Moreover, one’s career is not necessarily the essence or paradigm of a given life’s experience; there are multiple factors, including emotional, births and deaths, marriages and medical conditions.  How does one quantify an experience?

The methodology we seek is often purely in monetary parallelism:  if one receives pay raises and cash rewards, then one’s career is considered to be on an upward trajectory; if one gets a reduction in salary (with or without a concomitant demotion in position), then the loss of linear progression is deemed a failure of sorts.  But like marriages, and life itself, careers never merely reveal a positive path of progressive purity; ask Elizabeth Taylor, who skews every statistical analysis of marriages and divorces.  And then, of course, there is the interruptive influence of a medical condition.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, the daunting doldrums of a medical disability reveals many things not reflected on a graph of life:  the bother; the interruption of a career; the fear imposed; the dealings with coworkers; the reaction of the agency or Postal Service; the need for surgical and other procedures; a whole host of activities not previously contemplated.

For the Federal and Postal employee who finds that a medical condition begins to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, consideration then needs to be given for filing with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, or CSRS Offset, of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Yes, unfairness is a characteristic of life not reflected in the graph of microeconomics; yes, sometimes experience teaches us that the proverbial cards are stacked against us; and yes, reversals of fortune constitute a reality rarely taught in classroom social studies.  But as life’s experience is never accurately or fully represented by mere lines and numerical paradigms, so a biography of a historical figure can never be captured, as fortunes and reversals thereof can never embrace the complexity of human folly.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: The Quality of Input

We often forget that the quality, validity and accuracy of conclusions produced by computers will depend upon the input of information provided.  Thus, predictability of future weather forecasts are contingent upon present information selected, and the computational analysis resulting in the future paradigm is founded upon current constructs, analyzed through the cumulative data previously provided, with a dash of witch’s brew and a genuflection of hope.  In other words, the trash produced results from the trash collected; a rather self-evident tautology of sorts.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering 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, the issue of what information to provide, the amount of documentation, the precise wording selected, and the cumulative historical and current data introduced, will determine the statistical ratio of increased chance of success versus the possibility of an initial denial.

Receiving a denial from OPM is a down heartening experience, to put it mildly.  Expectations are that the subjective pain or psychiatric stresses which one experiences, will immediately be recognized and become translated into a societal benefit through a monetary annuity, especially as Federal Disability Retirement is an employment benefit offered for all FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset employees in the Federal system, and upon proof and sufficient information and documentation provided, one becomes eligible for the benefit.

The difference between preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, on the one hand, and computational analysis of information in other sectors of information processing, on the other, is that an intermediate human factor is present.

All Federal Disability Retirement applications are reviewed, scrutinized and evaluated for sufficiency by someone at OPM, and it is this very human element which remains the “X factor” in all Federal OPM Disability Retirement applications.  What can be done about it?  It is simply a reality which must be taken into account, processed and accounted for.  While bureaucratic and ultimately a rather depersonalized process, it is nevertheless an administrative system which must be faced.

It is as old as the ageless adage of yore, attributed to Isaac Newton:  What goes up must come down; or, what information is provided, is the basis of conclusions reached, and it is the quality of information in culling together a Federal Disability Retirement application which is paramount in achieving success.



Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Disability under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset: To Fly a Kite

It is the epitome of a pleasurable moment, of engaging a mindless activity which spurs thought; and so to fly a kite is to soar with winds beyond our reach.  Does a life lived vicariously live life lifelessly?  As the flapping breeze at heights unreachable carries it airborne with but a thread to preclude its sudden spiraling away and into an abyss of telephone wires, treetops and treacherous heights of threatening snags, it is that hand which holds steady the coil of connection which controls length, movement, and steadiness of stability.

How tenuous is the reed of life?  When once youth masked the viscosity of existence, where mortality seemed but a yarn of empty rocking chairs and tall tells in the shadows of the flickering embers of a warm fireplace; and how the tenacity we maintained with vigor and vitality concealed those fears we harbored as we set about to conquer the challenges of an uncertain world; but when the fanfare subsided, and the promises of unspoken ceremonies fell silent before the finish line, the realization that life is but a short span of eternity where worth and value can be embraced only by measuring the momentary warmth of a hug or holding a gaze with a loved one for a millisecond beyond the practical, then does one finally achieve a balance of peace in a universe of turmoil.

The holidays tend to bring such realizations to the fore; so do medical conditions and their impact upon body, mind and soul.  If by “soul” we attribute, just for a moment, not that controversial component of man where existence beyond the ephemeral world of matter must by belief encompass eternity, but instead, the aggregate of man’s complexities:  of mind, physical body, consciousness, the heart and vegetative divisions, etc. — then it is indeed the totality of man who is impacted by a medical condition.

For Federal and Postal employees who find themselves with a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the tenuous reed of life becomes exponentially magnified because of the stoppage of career, intervention of life’s goals, and interruption of all of the “things” that need to be done.  An interrupted life is like the proverbial ship without sails; the moorings have been damaged, and one senses a drifting without control.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a pragmatic step for the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal Worker who cannot perform each of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position.  When a medical condition impacts a Federal or Postal employee, it is the pragmatic steps — the ones which can actually realize a practical outcome — which counts for something.

If you are a Federal or Postal employee under FERS, and you have at least 18 months of Federal Service, then you have already met the minimum eligibility requirement to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  If you are a dinosaur under CSRS or CSRS Offset, then you have likely already met that requirement, anyway.  All that is necessary is to put together a case of proving that one’s medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, by a preponderance of the evidence.

For, in the end, it is that thin thread which guides the pleasure of flying a kite which stands between chaos and connectivity; letting go should not be the only option; it may just be a little tug which is all that one needs, in order to steady the flight of life and retain that childhood sense of invincibility.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire