Legal Representation on FERS/CSRS Disability Claims: What isn’t known

There is often that final question during a consultation — of “any other advice” that can be given, or whether something else was forgotten, or the generalization of “Anything else I should know?”  That is where the particulars of a case must be known, and the wide chasm that exists between “being a client” and merely receiving an initial overview of a person’s case.  For, what isn’t known is often the element that can harm or injure, and the question asked but left unanswered is the one that no one thought about but should have.

Lawyers like to enter an arena of legal battles well-prepared; all questions asked, normally already are presumptively answered, and no lawyer worthy of his opponent asks a question that he or she already doesn’t know the answer to, or at least has a fairly good idea about.  In a Federal Disability Retirement case, where there are multiple stages of an Administrative Process to tackle and prepare for, the First Key to success is to not submit that which will be harmful to one’s case.

As an attorney who represents Federal and Postal workers in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the primary issue is obviously upon the medical report and records to be submitted; followed by the legal arguments to be presented and established, normally through an extensive Legal memorandum, which provides a kind of “road map” for the assigned OPM Specialist to review and (hopefully) become persuaded as to the validity, incontrovertible legal basis, and the substantive qualification of the Federal or Postal employee in meeting all of the legal criteria in becoming eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

For the Federal or Postal employee who attempts this complex Administrative Process without legal representation, the obstacles, pitfalls and potential hazards are many, and it is often what isn’t known that defeats a Federal Disability Retirement case.

Sure, there are cases where the presented facts, medical conditions and evidence constitute an undeniable, “slam-dunk” case, but those are few and far between, and we can all recognize such cases and a competent attorney would normally advise such individuals to go ahead and complete the Standard Forms, attach some relevant medical documentation and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with OPM.

Then, of course, there are cases on the far side of the spectrum that constitute a “weak” or otherwise invalid case, and those, too, are easily recognizable.  Most cases, however, fall in the middle, within the spectrum where one must affirmatively and by a preponderance of the evidence “prove” one’s eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  And for all such cases that fall in that “middle” area of the wide spectrum, what isn’t known is the lynchpin that must be identified and prepared for further assessment and formulation, whether by addressing it in a medical document or reinforcing it by legal argumentation.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement Benefits: Escaping reality

In some sense, everyone does it; in another, no one can.  For, in a general, generic meaning of the term, to “escape reality” is to merely engage in an activity that allows one to take a break from the ordinary and mundane, as in going to a movie, watching television, playing a video game or engaging a game of chess. In the same vein of meaning, however, one could argue that such leisurely pastimes constitute a reality no less real than working, dealing with life in other ways and attending to one’s daily duties and obligations – it is simply in a different “form”.

Daydreaming, getting lost in an imaginary world through reading a book, of even sleeping – these also constitute a form of “escaping reality”, if the term implies a narrow meaning manifesting the daily grind of work, family and surrounding obligations.  Going to school, surfing the internet or concocting plans for grandiose schemes – these, too, can be considered “escaping reality”, inasmuch as they do not put food on the table or pay bills; and thus do we face the reality that people possess different meanings when they make critical remarks that are triggered to demean an activity by making the charge that engaging in X is nothing more than an attempt to escape reality.

There are, of course, true escapes that are harmless, and those that, if entertained over too long a period of time, can become an entrenched harm that may be irreversible.  Taking a dream vacation to an isolated island deep in the Caribbean Isles can be a healthy escape from the daily reality of work and exhaustion; imagining a life different from one’s own, through a limited period of daydreaming, may be an acceptable form of transcending the turmoil of a day’s trial; but creating a world where one’s loved one, lost from the reality of this mortal world, is still present through one’s imagination and will of existence, may be considered a sickness when it begins to impede the ability and capacity to take care of one’s own needs.

There is a fine line between healthy escapes and detrimental plunges into the surreal world of the imagination.  How one takes upon the challenges of a medical condition is often a delicate teetering amidst the boundaries of health and unhealthiness.  We would all like to will away medical conditions, but the reality is that the real-ness of the injured, sick or otherwise deteriorating body, mind or both, cannot ultimately be avoided.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, the idea of preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application is often a step towards recognizing the reality that there is no curative power that will allow the Federal or Postal employee to continue to work in one’s chosen career, and that preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be ultimately submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is merely a matter of inevitable time.

Delaying the process, procrastinating the preparatory steps, or avoiding the issue altogether – all are a form of escaping reality.  Whether such an escape is a healthy precursor to the reality which must be faced, only the Federal or Postal worker who is engaging such an escape can tell, as the reality of one’s future may rest upon the very escape afforded by filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through OPM.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal OPM Disability Retirement: Parsing words and convoluted sentences

Choosing the appropriate word in linguistic expression is the corridor for comprehension; like weapons in the wrong hands and the capacity to push the proverbial button to initiate a first strike, the modern proponent of the elasticity of language has been accused of taking the parsing of it a bridge too far.  Of course, the general consensus is that lawyers “are to blame”; for, in engaging the fine-print and analysis of syntactic components to their exponential extremes, the convoluted manner in which meanings are twisted, coiled and folded into multiple layers of annotations, denotations and connotations, implies a loss of symbiosis between words, reality and the correspondence between the two.

Do words have any meaning at all, anymore?  Or, put in a different way and from a variegated perspective, must the word remain static, or be subjected to the interpretive emotional status at any given moment?  In a different context, such a question posed embraces an implied argument for the hermeneutical approaches that form the wide chasm in Constitutional theory — of “originalism” as opposed to the “living document” school of thought.

Whether one places significance upon the authorial intent, as opposed to the reader’s unconstrained translation of the contextual discourse, tells a lot about a person, his approach to life, and the manner of one’s capacity to evaluate and logically think.

In the end, it is perhaps the compromise between the two extremes which will hold sway with the ordinary person who happens to pick up a Shakespearean play and begins plodding through the double and triple entendres contained within, beneath, and every which way — that the greatest delineation of words and compilation of sentence structures must, however formulated and concisely aggregated, reflect a mastery of the word such that the here and now can be understood, but with a malleability open for playful interpretation.

This is an important point to understand — and for the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who is preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, every applicant must write up a Statement of Disability in response to Standard Form 3112A, and while the questions necessarily and somewhat delimit the context and content of the substantive form provided, it is the careful parsing of words and the need to refrain from a convoluted discourse which must guide the Federal or Postal employee into presenting a cohesive narrative, a logical and methodological argumentation of persuasive weight, and a clarity of deliberative purpose which sways the reader — the administrative “specialist” at OPM — into granting a Federal Disability Retirement application with a responsive (but merely a “template”) letter stating with unequivocal and unmistakable bluntness: “Approved“.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Medical Retirement: The loss of linguistic efficacy

If words are to have meaning, then the care in using them must be protected.  It is, of course, the conditional which must be accepted as true, in order for the contingency to be acted upon.  In a society where populism prevails, and in accepting a false sense of what “democracy” and “equality” have come to mean, the suffering consequences of a nation’s language becomes destroyed in subtle tones of disengagement.  Words lose their efficacy by multiple methods: overuse; misuse; refusal to allow for an expected impact to occur; or non-use by neglect and disregard.

Are there negative consequences for the loss of linguistic efficacy?  Or, perhaps such concerns are merely esoteric turmoils relegated to the intellectual temper tantrums reserved in ivory towers, and not of any significance or relevance to the greater population at large?  The English of Shakespeare is certainly not the mother tongue of modernity, and the volume of utterances fail to replace the lack of cogency in today’s discourse.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who intend to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the care in the selection and positing of words is important, despite the loss of such status and stature of their force and effect in general.  To prepare an effective Federal OPM Disability Retirement application — one which is both persuasive, as well as “true” — requires the careful crafting of a cogent compilation of multiple narratives, appealing to logic, factual coherence, and force of comprehension.  It must defy that which we see in today’s society — of the loss of linguistic efficacy.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal & Postal Employee Medical Separation: The abstract concept of “the other”

Existentialism could only have arisen from the ashes of nihilism; Western Philosophy, spanning the spectrum of metaphysics, epistemology, Rationalism, Empiricism and the tradition of questioning origins, essences and the compendium of who we are and what it all means, does not lead to the natural annihilation of intellectual curiosity.  But Existentialism, does.  Why?  Because Existentialism is an emotional reaction, rather than a rational rebuttal.

From the horrors of Nazi concentration camps and the denigration of human dignity reduced to mere abstractions, the philosophy of negation of which it is characterized, is more of a “sense” approach than a logical methodology of comprehension and understanding.  Thus, while traditional philosophy was always denoted by a curiosity towards abstraction, Existentialism was pulled back by a retractive revulsion because of the alienating impact of conceptualization.

That is why the most powerful explication of the philosophy of Existentialism is found in a novel by Camus (reference, The Stranger or The Plague), and not in reading Sartre’s meandering explanation (Being and Nothingness) of a confused attempt to systematize the emotive side of man.  Thus, in reading Camus, one gets the “sense” of abandonment, separation, distance and alienation of man from the community of others; whereas, in reading the traditional philosophical works — take any page from Plato, Aristotle or the Medievals — one enters an universe of order, systematized approach, and methodological rationalization emanating from curiosity and questioning.

The two approaches, however, are not unrelated; for, it is precisely because of the traditional training of discussing concepts in abstract form (and thereby separating the thought-process from human touch and interaction) that disregarding the humanity of a living being could be achieved.  In more provincial terms, it is easier to be cruel to a concept, than to one’s own child or spouse.  And, indeed, that is how we survive in advancing our purposive actions of harassment and sheer meanness; by objectifying “the other”, we can bifurcate our minds and categorize the subject into something less.

Supervisors do it to workers and underlings; no longer is the worker a fellow human being, but “that ## % !!”.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the lessons learned and gleaned from the reactive lens of Existentialism may be twofold:  First, don’t expect sympathy from the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service because you have a medical condition (that, unfortunately, is probably self-evident and a “given” already), and Second, do not expect cooperation or efficiency to suddenly prevail when engaging the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, merely because the need to obtain Federal OPM Disability Retirement should in and of itself touch a sense of empathy.

In neither case will a positive response be evoked.

Ultimately, the bureaucratic process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a surreal experience, and one in which the sense of alienation felt by Existentialism is encountered throughout.  That is because, in the end, the Federal or Postal applicant in a Federal Disability Retirement case is none other than a mere “other”, and no more than an abstraction to be gotten rid of, like the distraction you became when once you were no longer fully productive on the assembly line of life’s refuse of illegitimacy.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire