Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The negative of a photograph

In this digital age, the disappearance of the negative in photography is quite appropriate; for, this is an age that has attempted to expunge everything negative, both in form and in substance.  That thin strip of plastic film that was always retained, and carefully coupled with the “positive” prints, was preserved with the idea that the more valued sets of prints may become lost, distributed or otherwise disseminated, and in that event, so long as the negative of the original was retained, more could be printed out.

Just before the digital age, there were “do-it-yourself” machines – monstrosities that received the film, processed them and spit out two-prints each; or is that just the faulty memory of this writer? The double-prints were meant to allow for giving of one and keeping the other, just in case grandma or grandpa wanted one of those cute pictures where everyone simultaneous said the universal word: “Cheese!”

Yet, the concept of the negative still retains some fascination, despite its obsolescence in the modernity of the digital age; for, it is the reverse order of reality, where the lightness of images retains the darkness of reflection, and vice versa, because of the chemical sensitivity in processing the film.

And who among us recalls the ghoulish search when we actually did want to get another print made – of searching through various negatives, seeing the hollow images of figures staring back, trying to discern whether multiple negatives that appeared similar but not quite the same could be the one, by matching the angle of the face, the tilt of the head, or some mysterious figure in the background not shown in the original?

Have we all had that experience – where there is something that appears in the negative but not in the print, and attribute it to the ghostly mysteries that somehow and by mistake captured the supernatural world otherwise banished from this day and age?

The romantic world of the unknown has now vanished, along with the negative of a photograph; now, we are left with the virtual reality of a mundane universe, with nothing left for our imaginations.  For, the negative of a photograph is the mystery itself that always spurred us onward and upward, trying always to achieve the next level of accomplishment.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers from 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 concept of the negative of a photograph should be quite familiar; for, once upon a time, that image beheld on that strip of plastic was the “real” you, preserved and retained for posterity as the valuable essence of a being otherwise forgotten.

Federal agencies and Postal facilities only care about the print that stays forever in the same pose and manner, unchangeable and forever identical.  The mere fact that a medical condition has “changed” a Federal or Postal employee is somehow rejected by the Federal agency and U.S. Postal Service, and that is why filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management becomes so important.

For, just like the negative of a photograph, it is the medical condition in its negative aspects that always seems to be the sole focus of the Federal or Postal facility in determining the worth of an individual.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Disability Retirement: Of Tomorrow’s Dreams Delayed

We like to think that our lives progress unencumbered in a linear line of advancement, with nary a bump or an obstacle unconquerable, and but for the occasional exuberance of planned erraticisms, the journey should be a smooth ride without surprises.  But just as planes sometimes fall from the sky, and nature betrays its perfection by mistaken errors of comedic turmoil, so the linear aspect of constancy often must confront the bumpiness of expectations.

Life rarely turns out as planned, and the more we plan, the less we expect fulfillment.  Perhaps that is the great tragedy of loss of youthful innocence.  In the end, it is how we face up to that realization that plans are meant to be altered, that unexpected curtailment of expectations unrealized merely represent the reality of the universe, and that in the end, the process of “how we face” it is more important than the desultory buoyancy of cynicism.

On a rollercoaster or other thrill-seeking device, there is often that final moment of exhilaration, that last pause before the turn; perhaps that is precisely why we seek such madness, for life itself rarely presents us with a similar and parallel event.  Instead, like the medical condition which slowly, steadily, and with monotonous rage progresses to debilitate, the constancy of repetitive boredom in life mirrors the tragedy of human proportionality and graveyards filled with unnamed tombstones.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition results in an inability to perform the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the bumping up against the tides of obstruction means that one must prepare, formulate, and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, or even CSRS Offset.

Life’s unfair advantage at throwing down an obstacle in the midst of a promising career should never betray the need to adapt and consider the alternatives beyond; and for the Federal or Postal worker who can no longer perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, the likelihood that the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service will engage in harassment and ultimate termination of employment, is greater than not.  That is why, of tomorrow’s promises and dreams delayed, it is necessary to prepare, formulate and file for OPM Disability Retirement benefits today, so that the tomorrow of dismal dalliances may be deemed a desirable date of this day’s inestimable worth.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Disability Retirement from Government Employment: The Beat of Life

Have you ever had a dream (or nightmare) where you are the only one out of sync?  Whether in a choir or perhaps playing an instrument, and everyone around stares with irritation or dismay, and no matter what efforts you expend, nothing seems to allow for a synchronization of movements, sounds or stylistic applications?

Or in other similar circumstances, whether in sports, dance, or other events requiring coordination of efforts and timing of actions, the personification of self reflects a complete lack of capacity to become a quiet pendulum of rhythmic beats.  And much of life is like that; there is a rhythm and a beat, and one day we wake up and everything seems out of sync, out of kilter, and no matter what we do, how hard we try, the beat of life seems to go on without us.

The phrase itself, “The beat of life”, of course, has a sense of double entendre; the first implying the rhythmic march of one’s existence, and the other denoting the thrashing inflicted through the existential encounters experienced daily.  Both, in either form, connote the consequences of the spectrum felt and the degree effectuated upon the soul of an individual.  Medical conditions tend to do that independently of any control we attempt to exert upon the environment surrounding us.  Control and our ability and capacity to determine one’s fate, is not confined or unique to the proverbial “Type-A” personality.

We all desire to be the master of our defined universe.  To lose control is to relinquish the beat and rhythm of life.   It is to be banished from the comity and security of the fiefdom we have ascribed and announced our liege to, and for which we have dedicated out lives.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, the discovery of a medical condition which impacts one’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, is tantamount to a moment in a dream when the beat of life begins and ends.  The old rhythmic consonance of mellifluous comity terminates, and the new and adversarial relationship, both against the medical condition itself and the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service which fails to accommodate and refuses to cooperate, must be endured and confronted.

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, must be considered, precisely because a new beat must be found, and the band which played the tunes before can no longer comprehend the stylistic differentiation which you have now experienced, like a religious awakening expanding beyond the horizon one may have expected at the beginning of the journey.

But whether one lives a life in a small town and never leaves the security of the neighborhood born, or one travels through and traverses the cultural divides of the world, the beat of life one carries is somewhat like the backpack of the pilgrim, and for the Federal and Postal worker who must move on to the next phase of life, preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with OPM becomes a necessary step to allow for the beat of life to continue, lest you allow life itself to beat you down.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement: The False Option of Extremes

-The choices we make are contingent upon the knowledge we possess; thus, if we choose between a tripartite offering of x, y & z, when (as perhaps illustrated by Venn Diagrams within a rectangular border representing the “universal” set of possibilities) actual and available options may extend beyond the known quantities available, then we have made our decision based upon an ignorance of alternatives.

Offerings are generally made based upon self-centered care; in negotiating with an adversary, it is normally the option of extremes which are granted:  Either X, or Y, but not both, and if neither X nor Y, then consequence-T.  No mention is made concerning the availability of sub-options Xx, or Yy, to the remaining result of T1, 2 or 3.  Furthermore, when the concealment or unrevealed alternatives fail to be presented, it is often the case that only the extreme of options are conveyed, which makes the entire set of non-universal choices false in their very definition.  This can be exponentially quantified when a medical condition is introduced into the equation, precisely because mental acuity and sound judgment become influenced by desperation of circumstances.

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 positional duties in the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, the false option of extremes can very likely be attributable to fear, lack of knowledge, combined with loss of confidence in the fair distribution of justice and good sense.

It is indeed troubling that so many Federal and Postal workers know nothing about Federal Disability Retirement, or its availability after having worked just 18 months in the Federal sector (under FERS), or 5 years under CSRS.  The confusion can sometimes arise in the availability of Social Security Disability, which is distinct and separate from Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

The two are distinct and different in multiple ways:  the criteria to qualify; the nature of the benefit; the rules concerning employment after approval of either, etc.  Yes, if under FERS both SSDI and FERS Disability Retirement are granted, there is an “offset” tantamount to a coordination of benefits between the two, but for those who do not seek outside employment, the combination of both (despite the offset) will normally net the (former) Federal or Postal employee more in terms of a monthly annuity.

Whatever the reasons, the age-old adage (attributable to Sir Francis Bacon) that knowledge is power, and lack of it injustice and contempt (the addendum clause is merely added by this author) by those who possess but offer mere false alternatives, is but a pervasive truism abounding despite the Internet, Google and other information-searching technologies of modernity.

In the end, the false options of extremes should be countered by a deliberative intent and real curiosity to know — know that the “other side” is never truly looking out for your best interest; that in making spur-of-the-moment decisions, to take a further moment to investigate and reflect may be fruitful, and in the end, to recognize that for the Federal or Postal employee suffering from a medical condition, working on at the expense of one’s health, or resigning, are not the only two options available, but 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, is also within the subset of universal alternatives available to the Federal or Postal employee.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire