Medical Retirement from Federal Government Employment: Life’s Joke

The funniest line in literature comes from Carl Sandburg’s “Potato Face Blind Man” stories, where he describes the reason for the wooden mug:  “There is a hole in the bottom of it.  The hole is as big as the bottom.  The nickel goes in and comes out again.  It is for the very poor people who wish to give me a nickel and yet get the nickel back.”

Satire has often been overly-discussed, and attempting to explain why a particular scene, line or story is amusing, is somewhat like trying to explain to a Martian why Bradbury’s chronicles fascinated the young:  it just is, and either you get it, or you don’t.  It is, perhaps, the incongruence between expectation and reality; of a projection of incommensurability that occurs when a portrayal doesn’t quite meet the anticipation of “should”.

In Sandburg’s description, two such anomalies occur:  First, that the figure who holds the mug does so with the expectation that passersby will drop a nickel out of a sense of pity; but second, and poignantly portrayed, that the tables are turned around by the one who allegedly is begging for the nickel, in that he recognizes the empathetic component that there are others who are poorer in the world who also want to give, but needs the nickel more than the beggar to whom it is given.  Thus, the hole on the bottom where the nickel given drops back for the giver, yet the act of giving has been consummated.

Of course, in modernity, perhaps such innocence of satiric portrayal is no longer thought to contain humor; that, as the ethics of inequality and financial disparity have given rise to resentment, and the inane concept of “fairness” today pervades the political spectrum throughout, the focus would be upon the fact of maliciously describing a person with a disability in terms which might betray mocking jest.  But that is clearly not what Sandburg meant by it; and, indeed, it was because he believed that his generation lacked children’s stories which taught lessons of virtue and behavioral uprightness, that he engaged the literary device of satire.

Life itself is difficult enough without undermining the joy of a joke recognized.  A funny line, a witty scene, a belly-laugh from a picture of incongruence; such moments allow for innocence and the lightness of being to prevail as an interlude to an otherwise dreary continuum of surviving in a world which shows but cold shoulders twisted and followed by phony smiles to cut the throats of back-turned bystanders.

Such experiences, of course, are not new to the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who suffers through the meanness of workplace hostility and harassment at the hands of supervisors and coworkers, merely because a medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of his or her positional duties.  Whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, there comes a time when the Federal or Postal worker must decide to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in order to escape the diatribes of the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

Carl Sandburg’s joke was of a time when true empathy was understood by all; unfortunately, in modernity, the nickel which was meant to be returned to the giving passerby, would today be snatched up by wolves in waiting, where the lambs who once roamed the hillside of life’s joke no longer gather upon the pastures of a forgotten innocence forever lost.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The 90/10 rule

It is a general principle to which most of us adhere to, or at the very least, confirm and affirm by own own actions or lack thereof.  In work, 90% of what we do constitutes drudgery and repetitive toil of uninteresting accomplishments; we strive, however, for that opportunity to perform the remaining 10%, which makes for an interesting career.

A similar proportional reflection applies to marriage and love; there are corollaries to the statistical generalizations, however, such as our own children and those of others — where 90% of other people’s kids are bratty and selfish, but only about 10% of parents know it, would acknowledge it, and might even own up to it, but where 90% of parents believe that their own kids are the cutest and most brilliant prodigies yet known to mankind.

Then, of course, there is grandpa’s admonition about people in general:  90% of the people you meet aren’t worth a penny’s value of attention, and of that 10% who might show some promise, 9 out of 10 (i.e., again, 10%, or 1% of the aggregate) will turn out to have merely fooled you.

What does that say about choosing a life-partner in romance or marriage?  90% of the time, people in general are going to disappoint, and 10% might meet expectations of contentment; but then, 90% of us believe that, from the “other’s” perspective, we ourselves always fall into that 10%, when in fact we likely fall into the 90% ourselves.

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 the Federal or Postal job, such a state of affairs likely falls into the minority of Federal or Postal workers — again, generally about 10%, if that.  The problem, however, is that the majority of that 10% or so (again, probably about 90%) believe (mistakenly or self-delusionally) that they will fall into the 10% of such groupings who are able to continue their Federal or Postal careers despite the progressively deteriorating condition.

What the Federal or Postal employee who falls into that initial 10% or less of the workforce, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, should do, is to ensure that you become part of that 90% or more of Federal employees or U.S. Postal Service workers who recognize that preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is not merely a matter of statistical luck, but requires a foresight of effective preparation and competent insight — in other words, to be in that 10% as opposed to the 90%, attesting to the fact that, all in all, the 90/10 rule has some grain of truth to it, if only somewhat on a 10/90 scale.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Medical Retirement under FERS or CSRS: Hey, at least he has a nice hairstyle

Dismissing all substantive imperfections, the phrase connotes that which we are left with:  a trope of magnanimous inanity.  The classic scene, of course, if one’s memory serves one well (and, concurrently, if one wants to reveal the generation from whence one came), is where “The Fonz” in the popular but antiquated sitcom, “Happy Days,” enters the bathroom at the local diner, and as he is about to comb back his grease-filled hair, stops, pauses, looks again, then declares with but a barely intelligible word, confirming the picture-perfect reflection of the image in the mirror, affirming that no amount of further effort would improve upon an already self-evident apogee of creation.

There are, of course, numerous excuses in life, some valid, others derived from pure laziness.  Somehow, the linear perspective of historicity makes of us a frozen frame in time.  Whether the line of demarcation is upon graduation from high school, or a community college, or perhaps even upon being awarded a university degree; we think it is acceptable to stop growing, cease learning, pause further development.

Leisure is often the powder-keg which explodes; the essence of human nature as encompassing the character trait of laziness — but what does that really mean?  Does it imply and denote that there is a genetic predisposition to refuse further growth, or merely an observation that, given the bifurcated duality of false alternatives, most of us would choose the easier path with the least amount of resistance?

If the latter, then it is merely a harmless tautology of observation, for it is self-evident that work and toil, as opposed to pleasure and enjoyment, are the lesser models of preference.  Emergencies; crisis; traumatic events; these, of course, constitute an entirely different category, altogether.  And, in a greater context and larger perspective, one could argue that such intersecting and often interrupting life-events in fact spur greater growth and maturity, by the experience of encountering death, tragedy or tumults of great struggle and endurance against odds stacked against one.

Life is full of challenges, and having a medical condition is one of the greatest of all.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who struggle because of a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from continuing in one’s chosen career-path, and where preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management becomes a necessity because of the inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the endeavor to maintain a semblance of balanced perspective will often become a contentious force in and of itself.

It may sometimes seem as if the linear progression of one’s life has come to a stopping point, and that further growth is no longer possible.  Yet, the answer to a dilemma is often the process of the turmoil itself, and further growth and opportunity may be in some future arena yet unseen, after one has won an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity and left the Federal or Postal workforce.

What one doesn’t want to do, is to remain stuck in a situation of stagnation, where all that one can look forward to on a daily basis is to hear a dismissive comment from the guy sitting next to you, who says, “Hey, at least he has a nice hairstyle.”


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The problem of inductive reasoning

The difficulties inherent in deriving universal truths from particular observations have been annotated throughout the history of logical analysis, from Hume to Popper, and continue to haunt attempts at scientific certitude.  That probabilities can be imputed, as opposed to arriving at undeniable conclusions, allows for that “wiggle room” which is the hallmark of modern science.

Today, where the intersection and commingling of science, politics and entertainment requires less than rigorous experimental verification, and where drug companies argue for fast-tracking of medications with limited-to-little trials, even of “controlled” ones — inductive reasoning, though unverifiable and certainly wrought with inherent self-compromise, nevertheless compels people to act.

The classic example of having seen only white swans, leading to the general conclusion that there exist only white swans in the entirety of the universe of such species, is merely a convoluted tautology in a world of untrained and unsophisticated populace.

Rigor in argumentation has been decimated; simple Aristotelian logic is no longer taught (leaving aside Bertrand Russell’s 3-volume compendium of advancement in symbolic logic through his work, Principia Mathematica); and instead, we are left with the inane comments and diatribes on Facebook and other chatter which camouflages for intellectual discussions (where are the Buckleys and the Hitchens of the world when we needed them?  Or is it that aristocratic New England accents and British elocutions merely sound of a higher order?), where cyber-bullying has pushed aside the quite reasonings of timid voices.

Of course, deductive reasoning, as well, can be criticized, and has been by insightful corners of cautionary esotericism; for, the question always begins, From whence did the universal statement in such deductive analysis derive?  Were they not, also, from singular arguments based on the particulars of observations?

But more to the point:  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are preparing one’s Statement of Disability on SF 3112A, it is important to recognized the problem of inductive inference, and not to engage beyond the factual basis of the medical reports relied upon and conclusions derived.

Be careful not to make vast generalizations and presume conclusions not referenced in the medical documentation attached; for, in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is always important to stick to the relevant particulars of one’s case, and not get sidetracked into making unverifiable conclusions beyond the confining realms of logical validity.

Otherwise, you might be called upon to defend against Hume’s systematic dismantling of the soundness of inductive reasoning.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire