Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: A breach of instinct

What if? that fragile balance that exists in nature, seen when squirrels scrounge about in search of roots and nuts, moving within the tranquil space besides cardinals, woodpeckers, rabbits and robins abounding when, suddenly, birds attack the rabbits and squirrels, and in turn, the rabbits and squirrels chase one another and attempt to catch and devour the birds, and the mayhem that follows goes on for an unceasing eternity.

Of course, such a scene is not “nature” in its nakedness, but a scene from a suburban backyard, whereas in the true “state of nature”, in the distant woodlands not easily traversed by the human eye (are there such places, anymore?), such scenes of predatory confrontation held by a tentative and tacit agreement of abeyance may occur daily. Or, in those National Geographic scenes, where there is a quietude of implied ceasefire in birds standing atop the backs of hippos and rhinos pecking away calmly at whatever delectable insects abound, and their sturdy underlings happily go about their business – what if, suddenly, the hippo or rhino turns around and with a swift lunge of its massive neck, grabs that bird and devours it whole?

Was there a breach of an implied or tacit agreement, a breach of instinct, or both? When such “agreements” develop within a slow, steady and evolutionary process, over a period of time imperceptible but for the peace and tranquility it creates, and everyone is perfectly content with the circumstances ensconced by tradition and the state of current affairs, what leads to the breach, what are the consequences and is there blame to be spread about?

What if a rogue animal one day just declares to itself, “The hell with this; I was never a party to this agreement, and so I shall do as I please” – what then? Is it not true that no true “breach” has been committed, as the parties were never official signatories to the agreement, explicit, implicit, tacit or otherwise? Who determines that there ever existed such an agreement, anyway, and where is it written in the “rules of order” that certain sequence of decorum must be followed?

That is, of course, the crux of the matter; for, what is the retort of those who have no ethical or moral compass, but to sneer with the declarative, “Show me where it is written!”

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are preparing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits because of a medical condition that prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, the presumption is that tacit or implied standards of conduct is often tested at the outset, both by the Federal agency or Postal Service, and even by OPM.

You rely upon the rules, but the Agency may completely ignore them. If you are a Postal employee, this is to be expected.

Yes, there are laws, but so long as silence governs the assertion of rights denied, a breach of instinct becomes the rule of law and the depiction by Locke and Rousseau of that “State of Nature” devolving into a “State of War” can become a contentious state of affairs unless, in the very process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the Federal or Postal Disability Retirement applicant asserts the legal precedents controlling and constraining the fragile balance that restrains a breach of instinct.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Knowing where to stop

In life, it is often just as important in knowing where one is going, as it is to recognizing where to stop.  We all know the individual with “a mission” – always self-confident, never tentative, and rarely pausing to catch one’s breath except to regain one’s composure before blindly forging ahead with uninterrupted fortitude and resolve.  Military men and women are like that; born leaders and megalomaniacs follow suit; and only the timid bear the brunt of being pushed aside and trampled upon.  Overreaching is a problem in a society that knows only excess and limitless pleasure.  In the midst of being human, we forget our own humanity.

In the history of Philosophy, Rationalism has been usurped by Idealism; the latter, superseded by the reality of human depravity, and science the victor in the tension between theology and pragmatism.  In the end, Darwinian declarations of equality among the species have come to prevail, and in the post-Existential era of seeking merely pleasure above purpose, and the more modern parlance of embracing the “Happiness Principle” – where one’s minute-by-second assessment of one’s emotional quotient has trumped obligation, duty, convention and rational essence of an Aristotelian definition of Man – we now have no boundaries, no social conventions of constraints, and so long as we can avoid violating the basic laws that govern our society, we can do what we want.

In such a state, society and civilization, how can we know where to stop?  If everything is okay to do, how do we determine that which may harm ourselves, or otherwise breach the boundaries of decency and what it means to be human?  If all species are of equal value, then what worth is there in having humanity?  How do we know where to stop?  This applies, as well, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Often not knowing all the current laws that govern Federal Disability Retirement Law, the initiating applicant will proceed forth and barrel ahead like Military men and women and born leaders, without first consulting a lawyer who is knowledgeable about OPM Disability Retirement Law.  For, never underestimate the underlying principles behind questions posed on a Federal Disability Retirement application – especially as it relates to one’s medical condition and the impact upon one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s official position.

SF 3112A can be a landmine of sorts, and while it is well and good to proceed in a forthright and affirmative manner, it is equally as important in knowing where to stop, as it is in realizing the direction the Federal or Postal employee must go in order to file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: Plan of Attack

Every battle requires a “plan of attack“, and preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is no less an “adversarial” process than a lawsuit filed with the local county court.

One may embellish and deny by describing the process as “nothing more” than an “administrative” procedure, where the deciding agency is merely reviewing the components for “eligibility requirements” and conformance to entitlement regulations, but one needs only to be denied a Federal Disability Retirement application to realize that it is a legal process just like any other.

That is why, when a Federal or Postal employee’s Federal Disability Retirement application is denied at the First Level of the process, the usual response is tantamount to that of an opponent who lacked a plan of attack and quickly disburses in a retreat of panic.

Denials should be expected, and not necessarily because of a lack on the part of the Federal or Postal applicant, but because the “enemy” will counterattack and “win” some “battles”.  The army which never considers a setback is one which advances with such arrogance that the hubris of pride defeats without the enemy ever needing to lift a finger.

For those Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who filed for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, and who thought that his or her Federal Disability Retirement application was an unconquerable force of inevitability, the good news is that there is another day yet to come for a new battle, and even another beyond that, where a singular defeat means merely a chance to regroup for another day’s skirmish in order to win the ultimate prize:  the war itself.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Levels of Argumentation in OPM Disability Retirement

In a perfect universe, logic should prevail and the superior argument would be identified, recognized and accepted.  In a less-than-perfect universe (the state in which we unfortunately find ourselves), pragmatic factors involving power, authority, competency and non-substantive, peripheral issues must always be considered, and incorporated accordingly.  In the “unofficial rules” of argumentative methodology, three elements must be present:  (A) The ability and capacity to recognize a superior argument, (B) the willingness to concede one’s own inferiority of the proffer, and (C) acceptance of one in replacement of the other, which is to admit and submit.

In modernity, however, loudness and persistence, even without a basis in systematic logic, will often prevail, and one need not accede to a different position so long as ownership of the microphone or loudspeaker is never contested.  Which brings us to the pragmatic realities of the Federal Disability Retirement application, and the denials issued by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  First, it is important to recognize that all denials of Federal Disability Retirement applications by OPM “sound like” they are based upon “the law”.  They are meant to appear that way.  But are they?  If read too carefully, the internal inconsistencies, the lack of logic, and the repetitive nature of declarative conclusions without any supporting methodological argumentation will be quite evident.

How should one approach and rebut such a decision?  Does each and every point brought out by the “administrative specialist” need to be addressed, or just the “main points“?  Should the rebuttal arguments form the basis of the step-following the Reconsideration Stage of the process of attempting to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits — the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board?  Are there any repercussions for not addressing each of the “points” delineated in a denial by OPM?

These, and many other questions, should be addressed by a Federal lawyer who is experienced in handling OPM Medical Retirement applications through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  For, as some Federal or Postal employees attempt to begin the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits without the aid, guidance, counsel and assistance of an OPM Disability attorney, when a denial of the Initial Stage is received from OPM, more extensive analysis and “corrective” efforts may be required.

And those three elements of argumentative methodologies discussed herein, are they relevant to the process?  Perhaps.  But OPM is a powerful and large bureaucracy which holds the future security of Federal and Postal employees in their hands, and a denial by OPM must be taken seriously, both in substantive form and qualitative content.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Disability Retirement: The Consequence of Indecision

Why is it that some are able to make thoughtful decisions within a relatively short span of time, while others are paralyzed by indecision?  Is it purely a reflection of that — of “thoughtfulness” as opposed to lack of thought?  Or, perhaps because some have already predetermined the applicable criteria which is immediately instituted, like placing a window frame upon a hole in the wall, thereby capturing the stillness of scenery ensconced in a timeless warp of alternative displays?  Is it important to have set up a “criteria” upon which characteristic distinctions can be made, separated, identified, then dissected for evaluative reduction such that the proverbial chaff can be separated from the wheat?

Recognition that some decisions are based purely upon appetitive criteria — such as choosing a meal from a menu — as opposed to selecting a college to study at, a career to enter, a job opportunity to consider; what is the applicable criteria to help frame the issues to be questioned, inquired into, resolved?  And where do values come in — belief systems, what one holds dear, whether there are normative cultural pressures to consider, and the moral caveat which precedes the judgment of friends, family and relatives?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, at what point does the Federal or Postal employee consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management?  is it when you finally drop dead?  Is it when you become so debilitated that you cannot make it into the office any longer?  Do you destroy your body, soul and psyche in order to prove a point of loyalty?

Fortunately, the law itself helps to frame the decision-making process.  As OPM Disability Retirement requires that certain age and time in-service criteria be met, and further, that the Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties,  some of the work necessary to “make a decision” has already been initiated in an “objective” manner.

In the end, however, even the child who first enters an ice cream shop and realizes that the world is not bifurcated into simplistic binary systems of “either-or”, but presents a multitude of endless summers of nuanced pathways to ecstatic completion, who must ultimately point to, and choose, between alternative compasses which will navigate one into the future of one’s contentedness, or dark chasms of dismay.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Explicit versus Implicit

The former leaves no room for confusion or doubt; the latter, a bit of “wiggle room” where insinuations, hints and suggestive openings are characteristic invitations of open regards.  They are not mutually exclusive within a paragraph or even a sentence; they are, however, antonyms, and should be used with context-defined relevance.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the choice of either can determine the future viability of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

Certainly, there are times in life when one chooses the latter methodology, for various reasons — perhaps being forthright and blunt is not the “right” approach; perhaps there is fear of offending, or mere laziness and sludge of confrontation prevents one from being straightforward.  In the legal arena, the former approach is preferable, if only to squeeze out the light of linguistic malleability and flexibility in supercilious argumentation.  But in the context of an OPM Disability Retirement packet, there will often contain multiple usages.

One’s Supervisor, in completing SF 3112B (Supervisor’s Statement), may present contradictory information by checking a box which is relatively unequivocal (is that an oxymoron — to use the terms “relatively” and “unequivocal” in the same breadth of a sentence?) but placing remarks implying the exact opposite in response to “explanatory” and more expansive questions.  Or, for the Federal Disability Retirement applicant, in completing SF 3112A, the “Applicant’s Statement of Disability”, there may be a strategy in mixing both explicit statements and providing for implicit openings for meanings and connections.

Certainly, the “law” of Federal Disability Retirement allows for it; but one must always take care in addressing the nature, extent and susceptibility of statutory interpretation in formulating one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.  Ultimately, as in most things in life, the former is preferable to the latter; though, wiggle room and the dictates social conventions may sometimes require one to be explicitly implicit in order to be inefficiently efficacious.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire