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



Medical Retirement from Civil Service: Chaotic interludes

The root word itself stands for the state of being prior to the ordering of the universe – either by the hand of God or through natural evolution; or, if you are a Get Smart fan, it is spelled somewhat differently – KAOS – and is actually not an acronym that stands for anything, but is an international organization set to do evil that only Maxwell Smart, Agent 86 and his partner Agent 99 can prevent from accomplishing their terrible deeds; or, if you are an engineer, you may know the acronym as standing for “Knowledge Acquisition in Automated Specification”.

In any of the events, the state of Being otherwise recognized as “Chaos” (or its alternative spelling, KAOS) is identified as something unwelcoming, insidious and to be forever avoided.  Yet, life brings about such states from time to time, as if to remind us that order, sequence, linear models of livelihoods and pristine beauties of uninterrupted serenity are rare in the discourse of nature’s continuum.

Chaotic interludes tend to rear its ugly head just when things seem to be going smoother; when we least expect it; when the quietude of our lives seem in perfect balance; then the disaster, the disordering impact, the jumbling-up and shaking it all about comes crashing like thunder in the night to awaken us with a start.  A start?  To do what?

Perhaps as a test; as a challenge; to rethink the priorities of our lives; and to remind us that life is not a matter of slumber and remaining in a constant state of stupor and repetitive thoughtlessness, but a chasm of necessity mandating daily focus, concentration and attention to the important things around us.  Maybe we were becoming too complacent; perhaps the monotony of habit was making of us all bores to be avoided; or, more likely, we were just getting steeped into the ego of our own self-centeredness.

Whatever the reason, chaotic interludes tend to hit us in bumps and pushes, sort of like standing in a line to get into a movie theater or on the waiting list for a restaurant, and suddenly an earthquake hits the area, or a robber comes running out of the establishment and pushing you onto the street where oncoming traffic busily spins its wheels, or more commonly, you are diagnosed with an unexpected medical condition, and that medical condition becomes a slowly deteriorating, progressively debilitating state of Being.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact the capacity and ability to perform the essential elements of one’s position with the Federal Government or Postal Facility in ways that clearly show that you cannot do the job anymore, the concept of chaotic interludes is nothing new.  The real question is:  What to do about it?

One option is to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  That’s the thing about chaotic interludes; the options available are often limited; but out of the chaos that ensues, what is often important is to recognize the problem and tackle the issue in the best possible manner.

Otherwise, call Maxwell Smart and hope that his shoe-phone is in good working order.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Disability Retirement: Keeping it together

Living in modernity is a complex juggling act that never ends.  Simplicity recollected in former times often harken towards an idealization that perhaps never existed, where toil, labor and survival were a coalescence of a person’s life, and meaning was never divorced from what one was engaged in, the acts of striving, the struggle to earn a living.

Modernity magnifies Marx’s observation that human discontent is a result of separating man’s labor from the self-esteem of accomplishment, where the factory worker sees merely a microcosm of monotony but never possesses the self-satisfaction of any meaningful end to the assembly-line of life.

Instead, today we are a fractured sort, running like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off (and we don’t even quite understand what that means, anymore, as no one lives on a farm to understand that when a predatory owl comes swooshing down and severs the upper portion of a cock-a-doodling bird, the feet continue to pedal forward even after the headless horseman is taken away), awakening, rushing, being dazed and in a trance to view the multiple screens of a Smartphone, the laptop, the desktop and being directed by electronic voices of commandeering vehicles, parking barometers and driverless vehicles to merely observe as bystanders in a world gone mad.

Credit crunch, debt overload, children brought into the world without direction or means, and droughts, famine and wars and rumors of wars beyond; it is a burden just to try keeping it together, these days.

Promises have been made for decades plus of technology granting a reprieve both in time, effort and human toil, and the time for leisure which the totalitarianism of oppressive modernization has detailed has somehow never come to fruition.  Work, and more work; overtime; the juggling of family time, work, filial commitments and more work; and we can “have it all”, or so they keep telling us.

Email was supposed to undercut the need for the snail’s pace of the Postal Service, but now we are bombarded with an exponential quantification of that which we used to open with a mail opener, inserting carefully into the edge of the fold and slicing gently so as not to spoil the contents within; and somehow that very act of ancient and tactile connection between the eye, the hands, the metal implement and the organic material of an unopened letter gave it a personal bond of sorts, even in a mechanized office setting.  Today, it is merely one more click of a computer button to open up the electronic mail.

“Keeping it all together” – is it possible, anymore?

Then, when you consider an unwanted intruder – a medical condition both unexpected and unforeseen – is it any wonder that things quickly fall apart.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who find it difficult to continue in one’s chosen Federal or Postal career, when the medical condition no longer allows the Federal or Postal employee to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, it may well be time to recognize that the fundamental basis of keeping it all together rests upon the ability to prepare, formulate and file 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.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Childhood wishes

We had them; some of us still remember and harbor them like sacrosanct relics of priceless value; and still others know of them and recollect some general idea long forgotten, once delighted in, but now rotting in the vestiges of abandoned buildings hollow but for the frame that haunts in the midnight moon.

Wishes remain throughout one’s life, whether in the stage of adulthood or old age; but it is the childhood wishes one remembers that reveal the empty soul of what one has become, may still be, but struggles to abandon with a hope for tomorrow.  Some of them may be set aside as silly thoughts of an immature time; others, a revelatory insight into who we were, what made us become what we are today, and a telling hint of our present-day bitterness of embattled constitution.

Perhaps it was a love thwarted; a Dickensian tale of another Scrooge who foolishly wanted to pursue one pathway at the cost of another; or, maybe the childhood wishes were merely promises of correcting the sorrow of yesteryears, where neglectful parents and inattentive love left one yearning to promise corrective action when one became a parent yourself, but somehow such commitments were waylaid by daily life – of money troubles, relationship squabbles and expectation bubbles bursting by fits and starts.

It used to be that, before the age of Facebook and obsessive hounding for revelatory information about past friends and acquaintances, people would try to “better themselves” when they went away in order to come back and “show them” how successful one had become upon the glorious return and reentry at gatherings such as high school and college reunions – much like the Tom Sawyer effect of coming back from the dead – but not anymore, as everyone already knows everything to know about everyone else before such a re-gathering is effectuated.

At some point in one’s life, the comparison between childhood wishes and the reality of a daunting world magnifies the contrast that leads to an inevitable conclusion: the naïve innocence of those former times either worked as a detriment, in which case cynicism prevailed; or, those childhood dreams allowed for an expansive, healthy and positive outlook such that they provided a foundation for growth and potential for happiness.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are struggling with 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 job, perhaps contemplating 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, is the next step beyond for one’s future and security, and thought to be the “end” of something.

The difference between the two approaches may be nominal, or momentous, depending upon how one looks at it.  Is it like the proverbial attitude of the “cup half full” or “half empty”?  Or, is it because childhood wishes were never resolved, and that lonely and unhappy child one remembers never quite grew up, and the debilitating medical conditions now recall the dreams never realized, the hopes barely reached, and the potentiality not quite cultivated to fruition?

Look at it this way: Medical conditions are a part of life and daily struggle; filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits should not be viewed as either the end-all or the be-all, but a necessary next step with a view towards advancing beyond the childhood wishes one still awaits to fulfill.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Disability Retirement Law: The voice of constructive criticism

It is rare for the individual to accept constructive criticism; rarer still, to invite and welcome it in any form, whether destructive, constructive or otherwise characterized as “positive”, “negative” or “neutral”.  The fact is that few of us accept any form of it at all, and quickly respond with the rebuttal:  “It’s not constructive”.  But why does it need to be?

Such a reaction assumes an inherent distinction that merely and preemptively places an obstacle to further engagement.  It may well be that, in the end, one can conclude as to the resultant characterization initially presumed, and perhaps even to attribute bad faith, unhelpful motivations and intended cuts.  But all of that should come at the end of the deliberative process, and not as the beginning firewall to prevent further discussion and consideration.

For some reason, the evolution of man has embraced the societal need to spend an exorbitant amount of time defending justifying, counterpunching and placing linguistic walls of protective measures in order to preserve the superficial appearances that we all deny we revere.  The irony of Western Philosophy is that, despite questions repetitively and exhaustively presented – with never any conclusive and satisfactory answers ever provided (like children and their eyes bulging with curiosity in a toy store) – the query never ends and the answers are forever avoided.

This age of modernity, however, has a new wrinkle:  as traditional philosophy has been relegated to insignificance and irrelevance by reducing it as a matter of language games and confusion in our thought-processes, so now the “new” approach is to avoid any substantive questions (and therefore any curiosity to have the answers) and, instead, to preserve and protect our superficial lives and appearances.

The beginning of Western Philosophy warned of this – from Parmenides and Heraclitus, and with the entrance of that irritant vagabond Socrates as related to us through the Platonic Dialogues – “appearances” were to be queried and investigated in order to get to the foundation of Being.  Now, we avoid even the appearance of superficiality in order to protect how shallow we are, and we do this by preemptively and viciously attacking the mere question in order to avoid any criticism at all.  This can obviously have dangerous consequences.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who want to consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the key to submitting a “winning” Federal Disability Retirement application is in being open to self-criticism, whether constructive, destructive or otherwise neutral.

Vigilance in life is always the key, and refining, streamlining and formulating an effective Federal Disability Retirement application should go through a rigorous “vetting” process, such that the questions of Socrates through his dialectical methodology of getting to the “truth” should never be subverted.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Medical Retirement: The silence erupting in the room

You go out for a moment – perhaps to smoke a cigarette (do people actually do that these days?), to “freshen up” (is that necessarily a sexist presumption, in that women are the only ones who need to do so, or wasn’t it more likely just a euphemism to avoid the crass declaration that one has to “go to the potty”?) or just to get away from the din of dinner conversation; and, upon reentering the room those eyes look askance, askew, and away from you.

What happened?  Does suspicion abound, or is it merely paranoia that prevails?  Does sudden silence simultaneously synchronized with one’s reappearance constitute enough evidence to conclude that the gossip previously directed at someone other than yourself had shifted to include the reentering individual just previously having disappeared for a brief interlude?

Perhaps, instead, just before coming back to join the fray, there had been a pause in the conversation; or, it just so happened that everyone was taking a sip or gulp of whatever people were drinking, and as you reentered, the cumulative silence just so happened to prevail at the precise moment of appearance.  Coincidences of such natures do occur; yet, there is always that nagging feeling that the exact opposite is true – that, yes, they were all talking about you, and the embarrassing silence suddenly pervaded like a heavy London fog suddenly extracting its shroud of mystery and burden of conversation upon a topic well-worn by clawing swipes and innuendoes otherwise left undefended.

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 worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, that is often the fear and the gloom of dread, isn’t it?  That you – the absent Federal employee; the Postal worker who has filed for FMLA protection; the Federal employee who has been on extended LWOP – are the subject of constant gossip, and the grumblings and lies disseminated become the silence erupting in the room.

In the end, there is little that can be done about people who engage in gossip, whether in the bathroom, the kitchen or at the workplace; people will talk, and somehow believe that it makes them superior.

Ultimately, the best revenge is to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application and file it through one’s agency or U.S. Postal Service H.R. Office, and submit it to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in order to escape from the din of cheap talk and chicanery, such that it becomes irrelevant whether, upon reappearance into a roundtable full of gossipers, the silence erupting in the room had to do with you, or just a mere coincidence of unexplainable phenomena coalescing just at the moment of reentrance.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The Reconsideration Stage

Much time is often wasted upon rebutting incoherent arguments.  Such a statement is true in a great many sectors of life, as well as with an initial denial received from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

The first reaction in response to an Initial Denial received from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is to panic and become disheartened:  The Federal Disability Retirement applicant has waited many, many months, just to get to this point of being denied an application which was thought to clearly meet the legal standard of preponderance of the evidence, and perhaps the medical narratives and treatment records clearly and unequivocally established the nexus between one’s medical condition and the essential elements of one’s job.

What could have gone wrong?  What was deficient?  What unanticipated mistakes were made?

To top it all off, a quick perusal of the denial letter makes it appear as if the application never had a leg to stand on –  seemingly contradictory statements extrapolated; selective quotes from doctors, supervisors, etc., that tend to undermine the proof needed; deficient documentation and multiple garbled references to the “Disability Retirement Law” that has simply not been met.

How does one counter and rebut such an overwhelming denial of one’s carefully gathered and constructed information?

There is the “proper” and “effective” way, but one’s initial inclination in reactive form is normally not the way to go about it.

The Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who finds himself/herself in such a situation – of facing an initial denial from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management – will often want to just “give up” and try to endure the pain, anguish and cognitive deterioration by going back to work (if that is even possible and the Federal or Postal employee has not yet been separated from service), or just simply walk away from one’s well-deserved Federal Pension and early Federal Disability Retirement benefits, and forego the benefits earned and vested.

Of course, that is precisely the thought-process that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management wants you to embrace.

It is often stated (erroneously) that filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is not an “adversarial” process – and that OPM is not there to “fight you”, but rather, to ensure that all Federal Disability Retirement applications fulfill the requirements of the law.

If that were truly the case, then why does an OPM denial point out only the deficiencies, and never the positive aspects of a Federal Disability Retirement application?  Why do OPM denials always present themselves as overwhelmingly unqualified and argued as if there is absolutely no basis or chance of an approval?

Precisely – because, despite stating otherwise, the administrative process of trying to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits from OPM is just that:  an adversarial process which requires an advocate to fight for your rights.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire