FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The retirement itch

It normally doesn’t come until late in life; of that picturesque paradigm of the old man sitting in a rocking chair beside a crackling fire, a dog or cat, perhaps, on the floor just beside, reading a novel or looking through a picture album; where is Norman Rockwell, and is he still relevant?

In modernity and more recently, the picture depicted is of the old couple, or in solitary state of affairs, climbing the mountains in the Himalayas or traveling to exotic lands beyond; for, the advertising agents have figured out that if old people sit around in rocking chairs, mutual funds merely sit idly in accounts without becoming subject to trading fees and other expenses, and it is best to alter the mindset for future sources of income rather than to allow for stagnation to determine the course of a past.

Is that too cynical a view to posit?  Of course, events outside of one’s control will often determine whether or not activity in old age can be embraced, or will a more placid, sedentary lifestyle consume one’s retirement?

The “retirement itch” is one that often comes late in life, after a lifetime of toil, strain, stresses and “dealing with” problems.  Is “retirement” a concept that developed only in the last and present centuries?  Did not most people just work and work and work until one “died in one’s boots” – the proverbial preference of most people who have been productive all of their lives?

Then, of course, a medical condition can cut short and impose an early retirement upon a person – and that is what Federal Disability Retirement allows for, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal Workers who suffer 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 job.

It is that lack of a “retirement itch” that often makes the Federal or Postal employee pause; for, he or she is simply “not ready” to file for Federal Disability Retirement.

Yet, it is not any “retirement itch” or longing to rest and relax that leads one to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  Rather, it is the recognition that there are more important things to prioritize in life besides one’s work and career – such as one’s health.

It may well be that you are too young to have any sense of a “retirement itch”; but that sensation may be lost forever unless you focus upon your health and well-being, such that you will live long enough to scratch that itch that tells you that tomorrow may yet bring a brighter hope for a future yet untold.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The out-of-tune band

There is something particularly annoying about a piece of music, an orchestral ensemble or a simple song that is out of synchronized perfection, or put quite simply, out of tune.

The annoyance can be traced, of course, to the origin of the discordant piece; the “band” itself, the group of musicians or the orchestra or symphony that is responsible for the unpleasant sound waves that drift through the molecular structure of the unseen world and pervades down into the refractive caverns of one’s ears, then interprets through neurons firing in order to “hear” the vibrations that are supposedly in consonance with one another such that it becomes a coherent song, piece or musical collection.

The out-of-tune band is indeed an annoyance, and we believe should be outlawed and made illegal.  Short of that, what is it about a discordant collection of individual instruments that makes it unpleasant?

Taken individually, perhaps each player of a particular instrument can play it with utmost perfection; yet, when two or more players come together, it makes for an exponentially complicated attempt at coalescence, harmonious combination and synchronized heavenliness.

Getting married – of two different people coming together and making a lifetime commitment without killing one another – is difficult enough; getting a band together and coordinating disparate sounds and vibrations and, through practice, creating music that approaches a pleasantness of sounds – now, that is what you call nigh impossible, and somewhat like marriage in the sounds of silence (sorry, but somehow one must always try and include Simon and Garfunkel’s classic; and, of course, we must ask the eternal question: What ever happened to Art Garfunkel?) that we all strive to achieve by perfection of heavenly voices.

A Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is somewhat like trying to put a band together, as well.  Coordinating all of the elements – the Statement of Disability; the medical evidence, making the legal arguments; delineating the entirety of the Federal Disability Retirement packet into a coherent whole such that it does not “sound” discordant, which then hints at a trough of suspicion or insincerity, which then further leads back to an “annoyance” at the originator of the Federal Disability Retirement packet, and a likely denial from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management – is an important step towards an uncertain outcome.

Like the out-of-tune band, the success of a Federal Disability Retirement application cannot be just “putting together” a few documents here and there and haphazardly writing one’s Statement of Disability; no, it must be put together so that there is coherence, coordination and coalescence in bringing together all of the evidence for such an endeavor to be deemed “a fine tune”.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Disability Retirement from Working with the Federal Government: Originality

It is a frightening word; for, it is what we all strive for, yet almost always fall short, fail or attempt to justify and obfuscate for not quite reaching that goal.

Fortunately, there are at least two, but likely an infinite number of, avenues of avoidance in being charged with its lack:  First, and fortunately, plagiarism is not a criminal offense and, moreover, no one really seems to care except in the most egregious of instances, and furthermore, for those professing to be constrained by Catholic orthodoxy, it isn’t even a venial sin, let alone a mortal one.

Second (and ad infinitum as to the corollaries, so that we do not have to go beyond the phrase, “And secondly” or engage in the Internet’s most popular search engine contrivances that always includes, “Five ways to..” or the “Ten most important…”), there is always an excuse for its lack, beginning with:  “Well, I did the best I could”; “It’s not so important to be unique as to feel good about yourself”, and the dead ringer:  “There is no originality left; everything has already been spoken for.”

Is that why the period between “the original” and “the remake” keeps becoming shorter and shorter?  Is it an unavoidable truism that – from themes and plots for stories, novels and other similar genres, to television shows and movies, as well as songs and artworks – there is a limit of finite constraints that even human creativity cannot avoid?

History reveals that originality of profound dimensions will arise in spurts and burps; from Continental Europe’s juggernaut of painters and writers, to America’s continuum of astounding literary greats including Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Updike to Vonnegut; and, in the great tradition and power of the Russian novelists and playwrights, from Dostoevsky to Chekhov and multiple others, without even reaching back to centuries preceding, the originality of works steeped in profound insights cannot be denied.

Has modernity followed a similar course, or has the bludgeoning of unceasing informational overload tempered the capacity of human creativity?

There is a known, coy quip about the formulaic recipe for great literary or visual works:  “Have a terrible childhood, and write about it.”  Thus, such a perspective is reinforced by Dickens and other coconspirators.  A cousin to that rule is to live through political turmoil under repressive circumstances, and the validation for that is revealed by Eastern European and South American writers of current vintage, especially now that translations have been improved and perfected.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, 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 concern about originality should enter but only in a cursory manner.

Facts must guide; the evidence will prevail.

In preparing answers to the connivances of questions required on SF 3112A (Applicant’s Statement of Disability), do not try to be “original” in writing the narrative of one’s life, medical conditions and the impact upon one’s positional duties.

Remember always the other quip that must be recognized:  That each individual is already a paradigm of the original, and while the narrative engaged may not always be unique, and the reviewer at OPM may have “seen one and seen them all”, it is nevertheless one of a kind whether recognized and acknowledged by others, precisely because the life-experiences the Federal Disability Retirement applicant has endured has been nothing but original in the first instance.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Disability Retirement Benefits for Federal Employees: The bugle

Unlike its cousins, it has no valves or pitch-altering devices, but must be modified through the movement of the lips, the extent of breath exhaled and the undulating modifications of combined muscles in the lips, tongue and throat.  Perhaps from the days of riding a horse in the cavalry, where playing an instrument while charging full force ahead on a horse stumbling across rough terrain forced the instrument’s player to modulate through strain of keeping one’s self from falling; in any event, its very lack of complexity belies the simplicity of the bugle, as appearances are indeed deceiving.

Whether playing Taps in that mournful tone, or reveille in that jarring sound as the signal to awaken for morning roll call, or the charge to execute a cavalry or infantry advancement — that frightening sound to Indian tribes signifying the destruction of a culture long awaiting death – its class of variety extends well beyond most choices provided.

Trumpets of all sorts may be included in the family – from Piccolo trumpets, slide trumpets and multiple others from A to G and beyond; but the bugle stands alone in its structural simplicity and reliance upon the creativity of the holder who dares to attempt to master its range of pitches by the vocal creativity and lips pursed in controlled spurts of exhaling the intricacies of man’s attachment to inert objects to fill the air with sounds unnatural but for the beauty of music.

That range of pitches – from the morning call to awaken with energy reverberating from a cadence of jolting magnitude; to the charging rampage of a galloping horse; to the sorrowful tears of life’s end represented by the draping of a flag upon the coffin; these, in their collective entirety, depict the spectrum of life:  Of youthful exuberance; to middle-aged hope and faith; to the black veil of a life well lived; the sound of the bugle encompasses all.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who find themselves in that twilight of life’s stages – somewhere beyond the youthful enthusiasm, but well before the illumination reflected by the funeral pyre – perhaps it is the sound of the bugle in the last stages of reveille, before the first note of Taps is emitted; and the medical condition has blanketed the tone, quality and loudness of the music of life, and a further stanza of a narrative interrupted must be composed.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is like the bugler’s call to order, and sometimes the sound of music must be heard at the end of a piece, and a pause must be endured, before the beginning of the next.  That is the challenge and the beauty of the bugle – an instrument for all stages in the pendulum of life’s musical quality.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement from OPM: The key

It is both a tool of utility in order to gain entrance and accessibility to an otherwise abrupt encounter with an obstacle barring further forward progress, as well as a well-worn metaphor appropriately applied to miracles, magic and moments of mandatory martyrdom.  It is a wonder that a slight defect in the metallic shaving of the implement can allow for the turning of it, and opening into the entranceway, but for that additional indentation; or of a barcode smudged which refuses to make an allowance.  In either case, whether as a physical tool or an electronic pass embedded in the plastic sheen of society’s muse, what it opens is the foundation for its very existence.

Accessibility is the key, or so we are told; and the key, well, that is what must be sought, earned or otherwise stolen by stealth or whatever other means of perpetuity engaged in order to embrace the incantations of eternal youth.  It is that mythological “fountain of youth”, after all, which we seek; and the key to gain entrance into the club of rubbing elbows can only be obtained by smarts, good looks and intellectual prowess.

Time was that we were all sold on the idea that education and hard work was the “key” to success; but then, it turns out that the system itself was somehow unfair and weighted in favor of one class or group over another, and so the tinkering began, to right wrongs which otherwise wrongfully righted past and historical wrongs, by asserting rights previously unknown to have existed, but which now could be miraculously discovered in the subtext of originalism where intentionality could be denoted through greater concentration and willpower to discern.

The greater key, then, became who you know, what levers of power could be pulled, and the insider trading of such greater knowledge, while all the time throwing breadcrumbs to the greater masses in order to appease the rumblings of starvation times yet to arrive.

It is always a key of which we seek; whether by force, by protest, by assertion of rights unearned; and when we lose them, we scream with frustration at the unfairness of the gods of fate whom we turn to only when destiny denies the promised predetermination of an outcome-based society lost forever in the hollow utterances of vote-getters, who also seek the public arena of keys revealed in goodie-bags dispensed with public funds.  For, when doors close and open by devices of mysterious barcodes, the suspicion that something else is going on behind such closure and obstacles to accessibility somehow reverberates with a truth left undeniable.

The truth is, there is no single “key” to life’s puzzles or perennial questions remaining without answers; life itself is too wide an expanse, too great a concept, and too generalized a thought to allow for a device to insert into an emptiness of soul in order to turn and open for a final solution to a door otherwise unopened but by those who expend the greater effort.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who seek the “key” to questions unanswered in preparing, formulating and 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, there is no “master key” to uncover in order to understand the complex administrative process in such a greater bureaucratic morass.

Instead, the fundamental key to first determine is to prove that the medical condition suffered by the Federal or Postal employee prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties.  From there, the unlocking of inaccessibility will be determined by the key of legal criteria, opened only by those who possess the barcode of cogent argumentation upon uncovering the keyhole allowing for a nexus between the medical condition and the legal penumbras of technical application.  And, like all keys, it is that extra little shaving and indentation which will allow for accessibility, and turn the tides of a life otherwise barred.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Disability Retirement: Of garbage, debris and leftovers

The first is that which we outright discard for loss of value or unrepentant conclusion of worth; the second, what remains after destruction or usage; the last, what is set aside or left behind for multiple reasons, including everything referred to in the first and second, as well as a sense that a loss of appetite resulted in security of its existence without any judgment upon the core of its essence.  Because of our own linguistic laziness, we tend to just lump them all together; but distinctions in language-games matter, and what we do with each, how we treat them, and when we act upon them, requires more than recognizing the subtlety of differentiation we may overlook.

We associate garbage with the smells of rot and decay, and set aside vast areas for landfills to bury and cover over in the remoteness of society’s outskirts, where in lands of impoverishment and suffering starvation, the outcasts of society gather just to pick at the best of the worst.  Of debris, the wealthier people and nations as a whole simply discard and start over, again.  Those who can ill-afford to simply begin anew, will often try and salvage what debris can be reconstituted, and attempt to rebuild lives destroyed and damaged from hurricanes, wildfires and tornadoes, or other such disasters pummeled by nature’s fury or man’s carelessness.

And for leftovers, it is appropriate that it should be the last in the tripartite of linguistic examinations.  For, it applies to foods, to various aggregations of detritus, and to human beings themselves.  Of entities inorganic or inert, they can represent the extra screw mistakenly inserted with the package received, or the cheap trinket purchased in a foreign land but unable to fit into the bulging suitcase and discarded under the unmade bed in the hotel room left unpaid.  Of foods and other organic matter, it is the lesson taught by an overbearing parent, where loggerheads with stubborn children evoke stories once heard and continue as mythologies which – like unicorns and 3-ring circuses, never quite match the smell-test of reality – propagate like mice in the basement of dank and darkness, where the utterance, “When I was your age, what you leave as leftovers used to be the main course!” was but a boast echoing with hollow discourse upon ears deaf with such trite admonitions.  But the more serious manner of the meaning is reflected by the human cost of how we treat one another.  For, it is the “leftovers” of society which we forget about in the teaching lessons of wealth and abundance.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are shunned aside because of 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 positional duties, the conceptual construct of what is a “leftover” is a poignant reminder of what once was, of what can still be, and a hint of hope for a future without the harassment, intimidation and constant barrage of aggressive threats propounded without concern for consequences. For, it is the lesson of the leftover which we should all bear in mind.

As any reference in this day and age of a “Biblical” concept is immediately dismissed and ignored – (remember?  Of how treating the “least” is tantamount to re-crucifying at each turn?) – we must therefore embrace the lessons of our own childhoods.  For, in the end, the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker must make a decision of self-worth, and decide whether or not it is of any value to be treated as the vegetables untouched or the morsels undisturbed; or, perhaps, to “move on” and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, and become again the “main meal” as the lesson taught once recognized, in this universe where garbage, debris and leftovers are treated all in the same manner and upon the same plate of empty promises.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Medical Disability from Federal Government Employment: That departed innocence of yonder years

Whether we have become meaner as a whole, or that people have always been so and we just never knew it, we shall never know.  How does one contrast the incomparable?  What algorithm would be applied, which quantitative analysis, and how would a qualitative methodology of content-purity be administered?  Parity of differentiation would destroy any meaningful application; for, the generational divide would question the relevance of any prior criteria applied, and the subjectivity of inherent bias as to the meaning of innately elastic words would undermine the entire format.

Is there a natural yearning for a bygone age — of romanticizing a time never quite existing, somewhat skewed, and forever filtered through the antiseptic memory edited by time, desire and the psychology of protective devotion?  Do we selectively choose, whether unconsciously or with deliberative acuity, that which we want to preserve, like those museums housing reconstructed prehistoric beasts from mere fragments developed into an imaginative construct of creative fantasies?  Yet, there are clearly narratives which have annotated a different mentality, a structure of a departed innocence portraying a pastoral purity forever vanquished by modernity of vacuity.

Mark Twain’s works surely provide evidence of it; although, one has to read his works of later years to recognize that even he succumbed to the cynicism of life’s undesired experiences.  Look at the ending in Pudd’nhead Wilson; do any of the characters emerge victorious from the circumstances ascribed, or does the wheel of misfortune simply accept the inevitability of a world ensconced in the satire of fate as administered by gods who play with eternity and circumstances, like malevolent children with insects and matches?

Then, of course, there is Carl Sandburg’s depiction in, The Prairie Years —  but does that not prove the point?  Was it not merely a retrospective outlook of a selectively chosen era, characterized by age and want of holding on to yonder years forever lost and transcribed merely by an age of innocence never in existence but by device of mythologization (despite the ugliness of such a term)?  Yet, whether of reality or of tricking one’s self by some repressed psychological device, the human need to retain and preserve that departed innocence of yonder years, is a reality which is part and parcel of the complexity inherent in the phenomenology of sanity.

This is important to consider, especially for the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who feels a sense of hopelessness and despondency, given the current situation of contending with a medical condition and where decisions concerning one’s future must be made.  For, when a medical condition begins to intervene, and the Federal or Postal employee must consider the probability of 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 “surface” issues that must be contended with — of the unpleasantness of the circumstances themselves; the hostility of the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service; the medical inability and incapacity resulting from the illness or injury; all of these are mere “appearances” which conceal a more substantive undercurrent of “reality” imposed.

For, like the yearning for that departed innocence of yonder years, the truth of the matter is that all human beings seek for, and desire, a sign of kindness — that simple act that costs nothing, but encompasses an untold value of meaningful touch which feels for a brief moment the brush of an angel’s garment as it shuffles silently by, leaving the warmth and floral scent of a life worth living.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire