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



OPM Disability Retirement: Outward appearance, inward thoughts

It is, of course, the core of Western thought, originating from Socratic arguments against placing one’s faith in the “appearance” of things as opposed to the Platonic Forms that represent true Being; and through Aristotelian arguments of a “substratum” that underlies the outward appearance, to the certitude of Cogito, ergo sum; then, the inner reliance where subjectivity and objectivity coalesce and the distinctions became undoable by Wittgenstein’s standards of banishing all Philosophical problems to mere linguistic confusion, and the belittling scoffs of Russell’s mischievous analysis; these, and many more in the history of contemplative reflection that has haunted the aggregate of outward appearance versus inward thoughts.

All of which brings us to the core of so many medical conditions – where so much cannot be seen and we often have to “exaggerate” just to get people to believe us.  Take “pain”, as an example – one can be in excruciating pain, and yet remain unemotional about it.  Even if an MRI result shows that there is a physical basis for which the pain is experienced, nevertheless, pain by definition is a subjective component, and cannot publicly be quantified.

That is why conditions such as Fibromyalgia, Chronic pain syndrome, Failed Back Syndrome, not to even mention Major Depression, Anxiety, panic attacks, etc. – how does one persuade others of the “real-ness” of the condition?  Broken bones, malignant tumors, catastrophic injuries; these, inward thoughts (believability) are consistent with outward appearance.

There is, in the end, a distinction with a difference that must be acknowledged, between “having a medical condition” and “proving a medical condition” – especially when it comes to preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.  There are, moreover, certain factors that “favor” the Federal Disability Retirement applicant – such as the standard of proof (Preponderance of the Evidence, as opposed to higher legal standards out there); the weight and validity of a treating doctor’s opinion; and certain clinical evidence that moves the chess pieces beyond mere subjective opinion, thereby bridging the gap between outward appearance and inward thoughts.

Preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application requires more than just gathering a pile of medical documents and submitting it. In the end, the Federal Disability Retirement applicant must PROVE one’s case, in order to get beyond mere outward appearance and inward thoughts.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Medical Retirement from Federal Service: The helpful other perspective

Before going “whole-hog” with anything in life, the greater wisdom often confirms that we should try and obtain a differing perspective on the matter, if only to affirm the correctness of our own, or to consider the fissures and weaknesses we are blind to.  Wise people seek wisdom; fools travel down roads not merely untested, but even unprepared.  Such a tautology is a mere self-evident fact of life, but we nevertheless follow blindly where the blind leads.

If an individual discounts the criticisms of everyone else, then the wisdom one holds is merely the price of one’s own mistakes, and so long as others are not required to pay for them, the pathway to disaster can be easily paved without involving the toil and anguish of others.

One may query:  assuming it is wise to seek the input of another, how does one nevertheless know that such a differing viewpoint is “helpful” at all?  What if that other perspective is even worse of a disaster than my own?  Such a question, of course, is likely asked in a vacuum; for, there are varying indicators that one may discern in seeking advice from others –  reputation; demeanor; knowledge previously revealed; capacity to listen; established specialty in a particular field, etc.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering 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 need to seek the helpful “other” perspective is often a necessary prerequisite.


Because, when a medical condition is impacting one’s health – whether singularly physical, or mental or a combination of both – the debilitated state that one experiences often provides a skewered perspective, and that is why garnering and employing the advice of an attorney who is experienced in Federal Disability Retirement Law is often a necessary component of the process.

Yes, there may well be those rare “slam-dunk” cases, whether gathering and submitting the medical records alone will obtain an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  But, then, everyone who files a Federal Disability Retirement application believes his or her submission to be just that –  undeniable, unequivocally established, and unassailably confirmed.

Why is that?

Because the person who experiences the medical condition is the same person who is preparing the Federal Disability Retirement application – and he or she who feels the pain, presupposes that everyone else must also be able to comprehend such a state of decline.  Unfortunately, this is not the case – at least, not from the perspective of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which is also another one of those “other” perspectives that must be contended with.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The informed paradigm shift

Often, in ages older and generations beyond, it somehow becomes more difficult to be malleable and bend with the times, circumstances and turmoil of the day.  Does staid decay by refusal to adapt become a law of sorts for the aged?  Is it only youth that can change, or bring about pliable lives, or can the irrelevancy of old men and women be altered with an informed paradigm shift?

There is always a tautness and tension between generational divides; youth believes in beginning over again, to invigorate all plans and prospects of accomplishments – even of reinventing the wheel by trial and error.  And of the old, whose wisdom is never accessed, whether because of pride of youth of an arrogance fraught with silliness, it matters little.  The pendulum that swings between the two extremes, must by law of gravitational pull come to rest somewhere in the middle.

Paradigm shifts come about so infrequently, but there is often an underlying reason:  Just as wholesale genetic overhauls rarely strengthen a Darwinian foundation for survival, so the principles upon which one lives one’s life should not be abandoned after a lifetime of experiences in learned cynicism.  The fact is, it is always difficult to change when circumstances dictate.

Somehow, we believe ourselves to be the masters of our own destinies; and whether the fate of a generation is collectively overpowered by a consciousness of unfathomable mysteries, or each of us must singularly carry the burden of our future lives as isolated pockets without friendship or love, we like to think that we can control our future.  But there are events and circumstances beyond our control, transcending fault or personal responsibility; and the social contract of good citizenry – of abiding by the laws, following the normative constructs of societal acceptability, etc. – follows upon that path of accomplishment.

That is true of a medical condition – for, when a medical condition begins to impact major life activities of a person, an informed paradigm shift must by necessity occur.  It is not a matter of bad fate or unfortunate luck; it simply is, and the sooner one becomes “informed”, the better the paradigm shift for one’s future.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from just such a medical condition, where the medical condition or event begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, is may well be time to consider a paradigm shift.

Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, often requires just such a paradigm shift – a pliability in one’s thinking, and an alteration based upon the information (i.e., being “informed”) presented; and the next step once a cognitive paradigm shift has occurred, is to reach out in order to begin the administrative process of engaging the expertise needed in order to weather the trials of tomorrow.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The importance of seeing a way out

The strategic approach of allowing for a route of retreat is well-known; by providing an exit option, casualties are lessened and the proportional ferocity of battle often parallels the availability or non-existence of such a pathway out.

Cornered animals behave in the same way – and why would they not?  Do we think that we are somehow exempt from the genetic predisposition of Darwinian inherency?  And the cornered enemy who sees no exit – with the final bullet retained for self-annihilation, the option of surrender not a reality for the traitorous residue to such an act, or of the potential for torture and mutilation naturally following revenge upon actions taken previously; or a kamikaze-like final hurrah met with a hail of bullets; it is the importance of seeing a way out, that often determines the course of future conduct.

That is how the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal Service worker views the benefit of a Federal Disability Retirement:  as the “way out” of an otherwise untenable future course.  Without it, the options are often:  Die trying to get to work each day; resign with nothing to show for the many years of investing in one’s career in the Federal sector or the U.S. Postal Service.

What is so interesting in engaging Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers for multiple decades, now, is the singular and unassailable fact that is contrary to the misperception held by the general public:  Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers are among the most dedicated of workforce servants, putting in long and uncompensated hours beyond what they are required, and never wanting to take the “exit option” but for the chronic and severe nature of a rising and debilitating medical condition.  And, how many who obtain a Federal Disability Retirement annuity go on into the private sector and “pay back” into the very system from which they are being compensated the Disability Retirement annuity?  Many, if not most.

Without the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement, many would struggle and ultimately lose the battle either with the agency or the Postal Service, or with the medical condition itself.  Even with the benefit of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity, the pay is not so enticing as to encourage any mass exodus via the vehicle of a Federal Disability Retirement benefit, and it is only because of the progressively deteriorating nature of a medical condition that finally impels and compels the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker to take that exit option, and to seek to reach a plateau of rehabilitative serenity such that a further career or vocation in the private sector could be possible.

In the end, like enemies in a fierce firefight, the importance of seeing a way out is just as relevant to the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, as it is to the kamikaze warrior who tightens the band of fate by an emblematic headscarf in preparation for the final battle.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire