Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: The distant bark

A lone dog barks in the distance.  We cannot determine where, or even from what direction, but the echo of wailing, sometimes of whimpering, reverberates like a mist in the early morning that quietly pervades but can never be grasped.  Perhaps it persists, and we leave the safety of our own home in search of the cry, as the forlorn sounds made wavers between a spectrum of hurt, pain, loneliness or urgency of need; no matter the reason, the bark is desperate.

We begin the journey in one direction, but suddenly the winds of voices heard shifts, and we believe it may be coming from a completely different direction.  We shift course and walk in the exact opposite direction. The barking continues, now with greater tones of reverberating alarm, drifting from over there, somewhere out there, never to be determined.  The barking stops.  You pause, listen; but only the quietude of the midnight air breaks the stillness of the echo that now sounds within one’s imagination.

You begin to doubt yourself; was it my own fears, my own fantasy?  Did the sound ever break upon the dawn of objective reality, or was it something that originated from deep within my own needs and wants?  You go home.  Then, a few minutes later, after turning off the lights and drifting off into the slumber of night’s call, a lone dog barks in the distance.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer 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 the Federal or Postal job, that Federal or Postal employee is the distant bark, and the help that never arrives reflects the situation that so often describes the events that unfold.  Federal Disability Retirement, as the analogy may be stretched, is the person who reaches out to try and find the source of the barking.  Failing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is the metaphor where the searching man and the barking dog never meet.

Federal Disability Retirement is not just another “benefit” or a “give-away”; rather, it is part of the employment package that the Federal or Postal worker signed on to, and once obtained, allows for the Federal or Postal worker who is on disability retirement to pursue other careers and vocations, and more importantly, to focus upon regaining one’s health in the process by being separated from the work that has become problematic in the meantime.

And like the lone dog that barks in the distance, the Federal or Postal employee who fails to take the next step by not preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, will end up like the dog that wails pitifully deep into the recesses of midnight regrets.


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


Federal Disability Retirement: The mortality reminder

When does mortality become a concern?  Certainly, not during the youthful vigor when the future holds bright concurrent with the cellular construct yet expanding and multiplying.  Is it with the first encounter that reveals vulnerability?  And what is defined as a “healthy” sense of it, as opposed to an obsessive conduit to a dementia of nihilism?  Does a “close shave” necessarily haunt everyone, or does it matter as to the sensitivity of a soul that such karma encounters?  What “reminds” one of a future terminal, as opposed to becoming an all-consuming journey to avoid the ultimate consequence?

Whether for future promises of glorious defiance of it (Christianity and similar belief systems) or of denial of the substantive reality we face by it (Hinduism, Buddhism and similar negation-bases faiths), the treatment of how it is approached, the methodology of embracing or rejecting, and the paradigms constructed in order to answer the underlying metaphysical queries, are “projects” which Heidegger has identified as those very endeavors to avoid the inevitable.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from chronic, debilitating, or otherwise delimiting medical conditions, such that the medical conditions prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, the brush with the question of mortality becomes a reality precisely because vulnerability from the secure world one has previously taken for granted, becomes threatened with each day passing in the empirical experience of contending with the medical condition itself.

Medical conditions remind us of our mortality.  Certain and specific conditions tend to exponentially magnify it tenfold:  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (in nightmares, intrusive memories and recalling of traumatic events); Major Depression/Depressive Disorder (by the loss of stamina and the overwhelming sense of despair); Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which may include suicidal ideations and panic attacks (via the heightened sense of intolerance to work-place stresses); and those physical conditions which result in chronic and intractable pain, from multi-level degenerative disc disease, cervicalgia, myofascial pain syndrome; Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, as well as the ongoing list which every attempt to become “all-inclusive” always fails to mention, precisely because there is never a single right answer to the mortality reminder.

The key is often missed because the focus is misdirected – it is not so much the medical condition itself, but the impact of that medical condition which prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties:  that is the essence and foundation of a successful Federal Disability Retirement application.  But more importantly, it is that “nexus” which is the key to the mortality reminder, and that which prompts the Federal or Postal employee into a spur to action:  Prepare the Federal Disability Retirement application well; formulate the foundation for Federal Disability Retirement carefully; file the Federal Disability Retirement application in a timely manner.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Disability Retirement: The beleaguered soul

They walk among us.  In modern parlance, the metaphor is equipped with “zombies” and the popularity of such cultural fodder.  People tend to watch such shows and laugh with nervous chatter; but the truth is, there is some inner fear and trepidation that is reflected by such haunting tales, where comedy is fused with the absurd.

The idea itself reverberates with signification of a nervous reality.  It is likened to that old movie (the 1956 version, not the 1978 remake), Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which frightened the French Existentialists because of the denial of that one human characteristic that made life worth living – of the human capacity to love, hate, and experience the sensation of “being”, now deprived by an alien source of devastating consequences, left devoid of the essence of humanity and purpose.

We dismiss such antics of entertainment with the same nervous laughter; all the while, we somehow recognize that, yes, much of life itself comprises a series of insidious detractions that diminish the liveliness of our very souls, but we continue to allow for it to demean and deprive, until we become nothing less than that which we feared all along.

The beleaguered soul is one who has been harassed, intimidated and incrementally put down, to a point where the skeletal remains can no longer withstand the turmoil of life, the travails of daily living, and the constant barrage of plain human meanness.  That life has become so complex such that few can put up with the inherent stresses, is acknowledged by most; but what we avoid and fail to decry, is the lack of empathy that follows, where sheer cruelty has exponentially increased to a devastating effect.  Over time, the zombies and victims of those alien body snatchers become the greater population of society’s burdens.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, the option to file 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 an “out” with a brighter future for tomorrow.

The Zombie genre and the movie predecessor leave little hope for the bleak predictions of a dystopian reality; but for the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker whose medical conditions are such that the Federal or Postal employee can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, the constant harassment and increasing violations of one’s rights and needs resulting from medical conditions suffered through no fault of the Federal or Postal employee, the effective preparation, formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application can allow for a brighter future where “tomorrow” may lead to another vocation, a second career, or at least some semblance of financial stability.

It is, in the end, the responsibility of the beleaguered soul to take a last stand against the injustices perpetrated, and to give one’s self a fighting chance that tomorrow is a better hope than the devastation of yesterday or today, and hopefully, that the lock on the door will keep out that pounding invasion, whether by a neighborhood zombie, an alien body snatcher, or a Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service – sometimes mistaken for the other.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Disability Retirement from Federal Government Employment: Perspective

It is a different species from either judgment or understanding; for, of the former, it is often the basis and foundation to make one; as to the latter, it is the result from the procedural content in order to attain it.  Perspective is an admixture of multiple components:  experience adds to a balance of it; proper facts relate to the accuracy for it; consideration of judgments others proffer enriches it; and the capacity to connect all of the information gathered and provide previously unimagined ties within a historicity of intersection, relevance and significance of balance empowers it.

To possess it is to fail to react merely to a given situation while others around disintegrate in self-pity.  To apply it, is to become uplifted as a paradigm for others to follow, and to integrate the fusion between past, present and projection into future courses of action.  For, in the end, to have a proper “perspective” is nothing more than to realize the “now” in light of past experience and apply it to future predictability.  But what if the human constitution does not always allow for identical natures inherent to all?  Why do some lack it, while others are deemed to be forever secure in wisdom and reliance?  Solomon is reputed to have possessed it; the women who approached him, lacked it; and the audience surrounding had no clue of it.

In law, generally, it is the tactician who can strategize by means of understanding the applicability of precedents relevant to a given case, and if it goes before a Hearing or a Trial, to incite the emotional empathy of jurors and the sense of justice uncommonly deviated from the Judge’s aplomb of impervious fortitude that wins the day.  In Federal Disability Retirement law, perspective is often needed in order to make the right kind of judgments throughout the administrative process of 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.

Having the “wrong” perspective – first, about filing at all, and second, about the administrative process and procedural hurdles itself – can result with inaction leading to detrimental consequences.  Possessing and applying the “right” perspective encompasses a wide range of issues:  whether to file; when to file; how to file; what evidentiary annotations of facts, argumentation and laws should be included in order to implement the most effective pathway to an approval of the Federal Disability Retirement application.

Perspective:  it is something that legal counsel and experience of advice can provide within a framework of a time in one’s life when it is sorely lacking.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire