Attorney for Federal Disability Retirement claims: The tumultuous years

The tumultuous years are often remembered with a sense of awe, if not with some fondness.  The suffering endured; the turmoil experienced; even the pain sustained and seared into the consciousness of nightmares and scarred memories.  But one often looks back upon those years and reflects: I survived, and though the remembrances are a blur of activities that generously skips over the details of the suffering experienced, it was a time of enormous productivity where things were accomplished in spite of trauma of obstacles placed.

Yet, when the tumultuous years are in the “here and now”, that is not how one describes it.  It is only when it is in the distant past, when it has already been overcome, and when that proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” has already been reached. When you are still in the thick of it, fondness of memories does not prevail, and the old adage that time heals all pain is yet tested.

For the Federal employee or 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 job, it may be a necessary next step to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

For such a Federal or Postal employee, those “tumultuous years” are still in the here and now, and have not been overcome; and so it is understandable that you cannot yet reflect back with any sense of perspective, awe, or of fondness for those days of turmoil.  Instead, as you are still in the thick of things, the goal is to reach that end of the tunnel where the sunshine still is bright with hope for the future, and then, years later, to look back and remember, and hopefully those memories will be one with an exclamation point of having successfully met the challenge, survived it, and have put it behind you.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Medical Retirement from Federal & Postal Employment: The Scraps of Life

But that primary utility and first considerations were always so; if we were inanimate objects able to compete, we would raise our hands and volunteer for the front of the line just to be recognized and implemented.  We whine and complain that the dignity and the essence of each soul should be treated not merely as an end, but a means, and thereby treated with respect and empathy.  But of our actions; how we respond; what we are willing to surrender in order to be used as mere fodder for the foul play of fantasies left as scrap heaps of history?  Are we useful?  Of what good are we?  Do we make a difference?

Such questions become the mindful focus of determining the worth of our being.  Perhaps it is the ingrained determinism of the hunter of yore; that the pursuit of the prey in that pool of genetic yonder era when Darwinian structures compelled the need for vainglory conquests; but in the age of quietude of purpose, where civilizations have settled in cultivated corners of sophisticated inaneness, the need to be recognized and judged as useful still follows upon the self-awareness of one’s relevance in life.

The scraps of life — do we see ourselves as such; like the leftovers unappetizingly shoved aside on a plateful of greasy refuse not even considered by poverty or despair?  How does it “feel” to be forgotten in the dungeons of abandoned corners, left as irrelevant and useless remnants in a society which declares worth and value by the monetary assignation on a gold standard no longer applied?

Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition no longer allows the Federal or Postal employee to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties — they know well the feeling of what is meant by “the scraps of life”.  For, the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who no longer can show the fullness of productivity, prove the worth of fulfilling the “Agency’s Mission” or meet the daily quota of processing the voluminous mountains of mail — it is, indeed, the treatment of the human being as merely an end, and not as the means for a society unconcerned with dignity or respect.

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 often the only option left, in order to be allowed to “move forward” with life.  For, in the end, it is the next phase of life, the chapter following, and the “new and improved” menu for the visiting dignitary and wide-eyed tourist, that matters most.

And for the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who must cast aside the plate of delectable gastronomics now left as the scraps of life?  Preparing, formulating and filing an effective OPM Disability Retirement application — that is the way off of the plate, and into the furnace of a future uncertain, but surely of greater relevance than to be suddenly lifted and placed beneath the table for the waiting pack of dogs to devour.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Government Employee Medical Retirement: The missing comma

To what extent does language influence life?  As a mode of communication, sounds and utterances can certainly be restricted to a minimum, without threatening survivability; and in the history of our vast universe of words, thoughts and conceptual constructs embedded in dusty warehouses of discarded books, manuscripts and love letters tucked away in drawers once meant to safely keep where memorabilia of treasures remain unrevealed, does the competence of applying grammatical rules matter, anymore?

Do the dominos of historical reverberation fall in fated inevitability — like the missing comma which resulted in a lesser grade for the boy who would be king, but because of the diminished mark, failed to meet the expectations of a royal family who favored the second child, anyway, and beheaded the law of primogeniture; and thus did inevitability fade, history alter, and the child-king who would not be turned to savagery and the took revenge upon the world by becoming a little-known mass-murderer but to those whom he slaughtered.

Can the course of history be altered by the lack of placement of such a curved indentation of fate?  Where, just a fraction of a distance above, it is but an apostrophe which betrays the possessive embrace of a noun standing beside, but for the careless droppings which turn it into a comma?  Sometimes, of course, the misplaced comma can change the entire context and meaning of a sentence, and then the question becomes, do such misinterpretations have any force of impact, anymore, to the extent of interceding in the life of an individual?

Language is a peculiar invention; among other species, we recognize sounds, murmurings and signals to communicate; but to constitute the higher level of combining thought with words spoken and concepts written, requires an advancement of evolutionary uniqueness not discovered by fellow beings of other natures.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must communicate and convince because of a medical condition, where the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal positional duties, trying to maneuver through the administrative chaos of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management with an effective Federal Disability Retirement application — as ensconced in SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability — is the highest of tests in the usage of language as a tool of persuasive activity.

It may not seem so, as any encounter with a bureaucratic maze will often appear to be merely an arduous chore of necessity; but, in fact, engaging a behemoth and arguing it from its slumber of overwhelmed caseload is a reflection of man’s penultimate destiny of a chance meeting between grammar and life undeservedly faced:  Of whether the missing comma is of relevance, anymore, in this age where the possessive pronoun no longer matters when a computer can delete the words left unsent.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Medical Hardship Retirement under FERS or CSRS: Life’s Patchwork

Repetition and regularity provides a semblance of orderliness; somehow, patterns in life remain relevant to sanity and stability, and it is the disordered patchwork which creates havoc for want of consistency.  There are those who seek regularity, and are criticized for embracing boredom; then, the one who constantly lives on the edge, where being fired and not knowing the future of tomorrow is handled with a mere shrug and an attitude of libertine disregard.

Most of us live in the middle of extremes; that is why, in reading Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, no extent of profundity is discovered; the median between two extremes is what most of us naturally seek, anyway.  And we appropriate a sense of comfort and security by presuming that others are somewhat like us; to that extent, Kant is probably right in his philosophical belief that we impose structure and order into a universe which is essentially chaotic, in an effort to maintain an internal phenomenology of coherence and comprehension.

Every now and again, however, interrupting forces disrupt the quietude of life’s fortune, and misgivings begin to define those territories we thought had already been conquered, where the savages had been beaten down and the goblins had all been captured.  How we manage crisis; what manner of internal fortitude becomes tested; and what mettle of essence to which we may succumb; these are all questions which we would rather avoid.

It is the contending dialectical forces that are represented by the “Peter Principle” as opposed to the “Dilbert Principle“, by which most of us must endure; where, the former is quickly dampened by cynicism of actual experience, and the latter is always confirmed daily by encounters with a surrealism called “life”.  Life is, indeed, a patchwork of sorts; of different people, coming from a variety of experiences — and yet boringly similar and predictable.  Eccentricities have already been tested and stamped out, contained, restrained and trained into oblivion through the system called, “the public schools” — where uniqueness of thought is curtailed via the pecking order of peer pressure and standardized testing.

Then, of course, there is the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker — caught in a bureaucracy in which competency and creativity are rarely acknowledged as the avenue for advancement in an administratively hostile universe.  When the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker suddenly finds himself or herself facing the dilemma of a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from continuing in a chosen career because it prevents him or her from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties — then, it is time to consider 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.

For, in the end, life’s patchwork must by necessity and self-definition reflect the complexity of the world around us; yes, we seek out the “middle ground” — that boring stability of repetitive humdrum of life — while recognizing that the extremes are there for a reason; and while it may not be for us, it exists and always presents a threat.  The key is to avoid it, or even depart from it; as escapism allows only for momentary gratification, and the pattern of life’s patchwork must be sought in the future discourse of our collective sighs.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Approvals & Disapprovals

The Office of Personnel Management seems to have recently issued a volume of decisions on Federal Disability Retirement applications on Federal and Postal employees under FERS & CSRS.

From the calls received from non-clients, and from clients, one sometimes wonders whether or not some sort of “quota-system” isn’t being imposed at the top levels.  Yet, statistically, the percentage of disapprovals v. approvals is not noticeably different than before; it is difficult to determine in any given period of time whether or not there is a higher rate of denials/disapprovals than approvals, in comparison to other periods.

What matters is not the general rate of approvals or disapprovals; rather, each individual case must be taken on its own merit, and responded to with the Office of Personnel Management (or, if the denial is at the Reconsideration Stage, then an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board) in a timely fashion, and in a tailored, appropriate manner.

Each case is indeed “different”.  One cannot compare one case with “war stories” about how X filed his or her application and got it approved “within a week”.  Such rumors can never be verified, and even if it could be verified, there are always individual and unique circumstances which must be taken into account.

Comparisons between different time periods, as well as between two or more independent cases, are never helpful; instead, the focus must be to take the uniqueness of any given case, and decide on the best course of action in order to obtain the one and only outcome which is acceptable for any given OPM Disability Retirement case under FERS or CSRS:  an ultimate approval.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: OPM May Say So, But…

I often wonder how many unrepresented disability retirement applicants there are who, having received a denial letter at the First Stage of the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS, never file a Request for Reconsideration because they believe what the Office of Personnel Management stated in the Denial Letter.  Sometimes, I will get telephone calls from people who want to file, and during the course of the conversation, it will come out that they had filed a few years previously, and had been denied.  “Did you file a Request for Reconsideration, at the time?” I ask.  “No,” is the answer.  “Why not?” I ask.  The typical answer?  “Because I just thought there was no way to fight them on it.” 

I used to be amazed at such answers, but after some thought, it makes sense.  As an attorney, my first instinct (both trained and natural) is to always take something to the next level, with the firm belief that I will prevail just by pure persistence, and by using the law as “a sword” in the process of fighting for my clients.  But most people are not lawyers (some would say, thank goodness for that, we have enough lawyers in the world), and when the Office of Personnel Management writes up a denial letter, then allegedly cites “the law”, and makes bold conclusions such as, “You do not meet the eligibility criteria under the laws governing disability retirement…”  It all sounds convincing.  It all sounds like any further action will be an act of futility.  But just because OPM “says so” doesn’t make it true, doesn’t make it right, and certainly doesn’t make it unwinnable.  They may say you don’t meet the eligbility criteria; I would argue otherwise.

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Agency Supervisors & Their Responsibility

Agency Supervisors possess powers which can be easily misused. As such, the Supervisor who must fill out a Supervisor’s Statement — Standard Form 3112B — for the disability retirement applicant, must do so with care, integrity, and a sense of reasoned perspective and fairness. “But I’m only telling the truth of what I believe,” is often the justification of a Supervisor who deliberately inserts damaging, self-serving and derogatory remarks on the Supervisor’s Statement. But such “truth” goes beyond the proper role of a Supervisor. Indeed, it is often helpful to discuss the content of intended remarks and statements with the Federal or Postal employee first. Such consultation provides a true and balanced opportunity — a field of fairness and a reasoned perspective — to ensure that a Supervisor is indeed being fair, balanced, and neutral, and not allowing for any personal “feelings” of acrimony or animosity to dilute and pollute a fair appraisal of an employee’s performance, conduct, and impact upon the Agency’s purpose, mission, and goals intended and accomplished. For, ultimately, a Supervisor’s Statement is not about what a Supervisor’s “belief” is; it is not about whether the Supervisor likes or dislikes a Federal or Postal employee; rather, it is supposed to be a balanced, objective perspective delineating the impact of a Federal or Postal employee’s performance or conduct, relative to his or her medical condition and the ability of that employee to perform the essential elements of a job.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire