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

OPM Disability Retirement: In the “not working” world

Excellence is rarely seen; the artisan is dead to the world; and we all struggle through knowing that trinkets from foreign countries symbolize the incompetence of the universe in which we must continue to exist.  Something is not working.  We all know it, feel it, worry about it and whisper in circles where such things are concealed and rarely revealed.

Life is formed by multiple concentric circles; we live within various spectrums of such parallel universes, sometimes entering into one and exiting another; at other times, remaining stuck in between.  There is the objective reality “other there”; there is, then, the subjective world of our own thoughts, emotions, anxieties and unspoken soliloquies.

There are “worlds” out there that we know nothing about – of corporate boardrooms where issues are discussed that we only read about; of high places and conspiracies; of dungeons in other countries where unimaginable torture and cruelty are conducted; and all throughout, we remain within the narrow concentric circle of our family, friends, the limited sphere of people we know, and the problems that loom large within the consciousness of our own worlds.

Throughout, we know that there was once a time, long since past, where the world worked better; maybe, perfection had never been achieved, but the age of politeness, of courtesy, of communities actually caring and thriving; or, perhaps that existed only in those old black-and-white television shows like “Leave it to Beaver” or “Happy Days” (yes, yes, the latter one was in color).

There is a sense, today, that something is not working; that we live in a “not working” world, and no repairman can be called to “fix it” because no one has the skill or expertise to diagnose the problem, and even if there were such a person, we don’t quite know what the “it” is, anyway.

It is quite like a medical condition that begins to impede, to impose, to interfere – like Federal and Postal employees who have dedicated their entire lives to working for a Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, then are beset with a medical condition that begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position.

What does one do?  Can the doctor “fix” it?  Often, we have to simply live with it.

In those circumstances, the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition and can no longer perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, who lives in that concentric circle of a reality of living in a “not working” world, must consider the next steps – of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in order to step into another concentric universe of sorts, and move on in life.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire



Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: The mouse in the night

They are heard and often unseen; a scratch somewhere from the far corner of the room; a blur along the space between the couch and the wall; and the mouse in the night scurries along, making some amount of noise more greatly enhanced when the quietude of a late evening descends upon us.

Should we put out a mouse trap?  The problem with that is that the dogs might come down in the middle of the night, smell the cheese and get his nose trapped and yowl with pain, waking everyone up.  Or, hope that the mouse in the night minds his own business, scurries about without anyone noticing, and we can all pretend “as if” he doesn’t live in the same house as you do.

Like spiders, centipedes and other crawlers, the mouse in the night is there, has been, and perhaps always will be; we only try and rid the home of it when we hear it and it becomes bothersome.  That’s how we often treat medical conditions, kids who are nuisances, and neighbors who are irritants – we attend to them only when they reach beyond a level of tolerance or a spectrum of acceptability, and then it is often too late.

When does “not yet” and “too late”, or almost too late meet on the spectrum of provocation?  Does the mouse in the night become the provocateur merely because we hear him and imagine the slow but steady destruction he imposes, or the danger of the wife or daughter in the house who may scream suddenly (or is that being sexist to think that only the female gender will react in such a way)?

The mouse in the night is very much like a medical condition, where it comes and slowly steals one’s energy, eats away at the energy one has stored, and scurries along the contours of the walls in a blur of running confusion.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to now consider preparing 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 sudden realization that there is a connection between the medical condition and the slow deterioration of one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of the job can be likened to the mouse in the night – you always knew it was there and that it was slowly eating away, if not by the noise, then by ignoring its presence; you just kept putting it out of your mind because of those “other reasons”, like the trouble it takes, the fact of facing up to it, the avoidance, and maybe even the hope that it would just go away.

But neither mice nor medical conditions go away, but remain as problems that keep gnawing until the hole in the wall becomes too large to ignore.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Medical Retirement for Federal & Postal Employees: Staring into nowhere

Except in the slumber of darkness, it is an impossibility of a feat unperformed; yet, the metaphor itself works well, because we all engage in those periods of vacant stares where someone suddenly nudges you back into reality and comments, “It was as if you were lost in thought.”  What does that really mean?

The fact that we can stare, perceive through organically mechanistic means of refractive light upon the cornea of our eyes and yet fail to be “conscious” about the bodily functioning of organs designed to perceive, evaluate, analyze and judge so that other predators may not surprise us for their mealtime delights, is indeed a mystery that evolution cannot fully account for.  Staring into nowhere is the physical capacity to be awake, fully conscious and have perfect vision and eyesight, and yet “see” nothing beyond the point of one’s protruding nose.

In an analogy or even a metaphorical sense, it is the loss of hope because of an inability to see a future bright and with excitable anticipation.  Remember those youthful days when the future yet remained as a potentiality unfulfilled and unable to be fully foreordained because of the unfettered plenitude of energy unbounded to be released forevermore?  We could barely contain the excitement to “get out there” and “show the world” what we are made of, the unleashing of one’s creative energy ready to “wow” the universe that had never seen the likes of such talent and reserve of energetic innocence.

And then something happened.  Life intervened; love paused; a leave of senses occurred.  Or, more likely, we encountered others who had the same hopes and dreams, and recognized that others had already trampled upon the unspoiled grounds of sacrosanct altars, and there was little left for us.  Then, with wisdom and experience somewhat under that proverbial belt, we moved on and adopted some more “realistic” goals, and were perhaps all the more happier for it.

Then again, perhaps a medical condition intervened, and a further and “real” reality set in – one that continued to debilitated and progressively destroy.  Medical conditions can do that to a person, and an agency’s insistence upon antagonizing and creating a hostile work environment somehow adds to the turmoil.

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, is often the only way to ultimately escape that vacant staring into nowhere, precisely because it allows for a vantage point of future security to be recognized.

Staring into nowhere, while escaping into the impractical world of daydreams, may allow for relief for a moment, but the more effective perspective is to look at one’s circumstances, assess the Federal agency or Postal Service’s capacity to denigrate and destroy, and begin taking those steps in preparing for one’s future by considering filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Stifling rationalism

Although it may no longer show in modernity, it was the dominant methodology accepted as reflecting the Aristotelian belief that man is essentially a rational animal, and thus the general approach towards reaching conclusions should embrace the perspective that the criterion of truth is based upon not sensory, but intellectual and deductive foundations.

But if the thought process fails to utilize the formal laws governing deductive reasoning, and nobody reads Russell or Quine, anyway, what is the difference?  Is it merely an appendage to the conclusion reached, by declaring, “That’s the only logical way to think about this!” – and if we add the exclamation point, state it with a clear and loud voice, does that make it so? What is the distinction to be made, from a valuation or validation viewpoint, between decisions and judgments rendered based upon empirical evidence, deductive or logical reasoning, a combination of both or all three, and the contrast as against an “emotional” basis for reaching conclusions?

If an individual engages in complex futures trading on the stock market, for example, and bases such transactional activities upon unscientific methodologies, is it not the success of the venture (i.e., a retrospective judgment on the matter) that will ultimately determine the success or failure of each approach?

Take the hypothetical of the following: Securities and futures trading can now be done with a laptop from home, and we have Jim, Nancy and Deborah, each of whom thinks that he or she constitutes the brilliance of Wall Street’s best and brightest (though none have had any prior experience but are engaged in vocations far and distant from anything to do with it).

Jim looks at the relevant newspaper quotations and likes the way the numbers coalesce, and makes the trade based upon that comforting sensory impression.  Nancy, in a different state and unbeknownst to Jim, has been pouring over the numbers, calculating, looking at the history of past performances, and creates an algorithm founded upon a calculus of probabilities, and pushes that computer button to deplete one’s bank account based upon mathematical precision that approaches some semblance of certainty, but never quite.  And Deborah, well, she possesses on this day a certain “instinctive” feeling about a particular futures trade, and proceeds entirely upon this emotional response.  Of the three, whom do we consider as validated, worthy of following or respecting of methodologies?

If Deborah were to increase her portfolio by, say, 500%, and Jim merely breaks even but Nancy loses her proverbial shirt, would we dismiss it by thinking, “Ah, just pure luck”?  On the other hand, if Jim were to make a nominal profit, Nancy were to obtain significant returns, and it was Deborah who lost everything, would it change our attitudes and confirm the notion that rationalism prevailed because it is the only valid approach to life’s complexities?

The acceptance of rationalism is inevitable for the rational animal; elevating it to a status where all other approaches are stifled, however, can ignore the spectrum of other dimensions just as valid in human life.

For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition necessitates preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it may be that “rationality” cautions one to remain in the Federal or Postal job because of job security and financial stability.

But there are other considerations, as well, such as an instinctive will to survive; and when stifling rationalism quiets the voice of health’s call to safety, it may well be time to consider 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.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire



OPM Disability Retirement: Fairytales, mythologies and lies

They all constitute the arena of “make-believe”.  Yet, we excuse the first, ignore the second, and feel guilt and shame for embracing the third – or, at least some of us, do.  Of fairytales, we share in the delight of passing on such tall tales of wonderlands and Eskimo nights full of shooting stars and talking Polar Bears; of mythologies, we recognize the need for lost civilizations to have embraced a means of explaining, but consider such trifles to be beyond the sophistication of modernity, and arrogantly dismiss such dusty irrelevancies as mere fodder for a fairytale told:  Once upon a time, Man lived in ignorance and could not comprehend the complexities of science, Darwinism and the unseen world of genetic engineering by happenstance of gravitational alliances in planetary designs of explainable phenomena; but we know better, now.  But of lies, the second is more akin; the first is excusable as an exception to the rule, especially when the innocence of childhood smiles warms the hearts of parental yearnings.

Rage, effrontery, a sense of betrayal, and a violation of integrity’s core; these become bundled up and spat out into the cauldron of people’s tolerance for acceptable behavior, and from an early age, we instill in children the parallel universes encompassing Fairytales, Mythologies and Lies without an inkling of self-contradiction.  And, again, of the middle one, we tolerate as mere poppycock by arrogance of modernity, in order to explain how our forefathers could tolerate that which we reflect in the first but not the third.  And of the third, we contend that we can abandon and banish the foundation of a Commandment, while preserving the moral explication justifying the mandate of Truthfulness, and so we embrace the linguistic gymnasts provided by forgotten giants of Philosophy’s past, like Kant’s maxims of universalization of principles otherwise untethered by metaphysical concerns, or even of John Stuart Mill’s failed Utilitarianism.

Then, we allow for exceptions – such as those hypotheticals where the black boots of horror’s past that knock on doors in the middle of the night and inquire as to hidden racial divides in the attic of one’s abode, but where lies and denials are justified in the greater cause of a choice between words and existence in the face of reality, Being and human cruelty.  For the person who must live daily within the consequences of what elitists and ivory-towered cocoons revive, the truth is that there never was a problem for most of us, between fairytales, mythologies and lies.  The first was for children to enjoy and learn from the lessons of innocence; the second, for adults to study in order to understand the origins of our being; and of the third, we recognize as the soul’s defect in Man.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must contend with a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, the identification between the tripartite elements become quickly clear:  Fairytales are the promises made by the Federal agency and the U.S. Postal Service; Mythologies are the rules broken by the Federal agency and the U.S. Postal Service, but which are pointed to so as to create an impression of integrity; and lies are those statements made and exposed, but denied daily by the Federal agency and the U.S. Postal Service.  In the end, preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is one way of extricating one’s self from such fairytales, mythologies, and lies daily told.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire