OPM Disability Retirement from Federal Government Employment: The broken record

Does the metaphor have any meaning for modernity, anymore?  Those discs made of shellac resin or vinyl, pressed into magical ridges where the needle would remain stable but for the warbling of the maze; but somehow that circular maze of ridges would have a scratch, directing the point of the needle to continue back into the previous ridge just traveled, like the lost child who cannot see beyond the walled ivy and keeps running frantically in circles, exhausted by the endless infinity of a pathway unable to be traversed beyond the limitless circularity of a philosopher’s argumentum ad nauseum, where tautology of teleology is likened to the boulder being pushed by Sisyphus.

But what of the individual who has never experienced the encounter with a broken record – neither in real life, nor in watching a movie or other inane television show where the manual labor of carefully lifting the needle by the undercarriage of a forefinger, then placing it gently onto the groove closest to the condemned one, possesses no contextual significance because of a lack of knowledge?

Those who have been dated by “aha” responses to such metaphors, take for granted such commonplace declarations; and when we meet with blank stares and confused eyelids, it dawns on us that there is no replacement for an actual experience of descriptive content.  For, the efficacy of the idiom itself is immediately lost upon an attempt to explain:  “You know, when a record starts to…”

And what of times previous to the introduction of the gramophone (boy, now we really are reaching back into time) – did the men and women from an era now past have such peculiar dialects that described repetitive droning of whining and complaining?  Was it something akin to, “Stop acting like a baying hyena,” where pioneers settled lands still dominating with lurking cries of wildlife and unsettled voices?

And what of foreign lands – countries afar and across the great oceans – did they recognize and identify the relevance of the repetition emitted by the spherical looping back upon a scratched surface, or was it ignored in other dialects as a ho-hum matter not worthy of creating a modern-day idiom to be added to the dictionary of everyday expressions?

The metaphor of the broken record is one whose utility has long passed; but for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition has become a chronic state of inability in performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, the underlying and substantive content of the intersection with one’s career and life, remains relevant.  For, to the Agency, the U.S. Postal Service and the Supervisors, Managers and coworkers with the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal worker – they view such chronic medical conditions like a “broken record” – of a fellow Federal or Postal worker who cannot “carry his or her” weight, anymore, and begins to treat the “situation” accordingly.

Human empathy lasts barely for a day; pernicious antagonism continues well beyond.  When it becomes clear that the Federal or Postal employee will no longer be able to abide by the conventions of the Federal or Postal rules, and others begin to view the use of Sick Leave, assertion of FMLA and constant need to shift workloads to others as acts to be punitively responded, it is time to consider preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in order to have that undercarriage lifted and placed gently onto the next ridge of one’s life, in an effort to avoid the metaphor of being a broken record.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Disability Retirement: The Process of Decision-Making

As has been previously stated in repetitive fashion, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important to understand and acknowledge the duality of the process — for it is a process, as opposed to a singular event, both as an administrative legal issue, as well as for the individual Federal or Postal employee in a personal sense.

To clarify:  As an administrative issue, it is a process which involves multiples stages of argumentation (potentially).  Yes, it would be nice if every case was decided with an approval at the First/Initial Stage of the administrative process; however, there is a purpose and a reason why there are multiple stages.  It is precisely because it was anticipated that there would be denials and appeals to such denials, that an administrative procedure for multiple stages of review and further submissions of evidence and arguments was constructed and implemented.  It is not an entitlement pursuant to a fixed date, a fixed age, or a triggering event.  Rather, it is an administrative process which must be proven, applied for, and affirmatively shown that one is eligible.

From the personal perspective of the Federal or Postal employee, the decision of “when” to apply for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is also a process, as opposed to a singular event.  There are, of course, cases where a traumatic injury or life-changing accident occurred, and such an event is the triggering moment for filing.  But for most Federal or Postal employees, the medical condition suffered is a progressively deteriorating process, and it is often difficult to determine a “date certain” where one can point to on a calendar and state, this is the day and hour when I cannot perform one or more of the essential elements of my job.

This is why there is an inherent complexity to a process, as opposed to a singular event of certitude — for, it is always the unknown and the uncertain which gives rise to the anxieties of life, and a process is indeed a period of the unknown, and a chasm of uncertainty.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: “The Work Of 10 People”

We have all heard the boast:  “I do more work in an hour than most people do in a week”; “I earn the wages of 10 people before breakfast”; “I do twice the work for half the pay”; and on and on.  The plain fact is that each individual, no matter the self-interested tropes of inane contradictions, performs the quantitative and qualitative labor of that singular effort, and no more.

Some may meet greater production quotas; others may appear to make significantly faster headway into concluding projects and assignments; but the boast of self-worth is nothing more than a comparative analysis which ultimately fails when proper relative proportionality is conducted; there are always others whom you have not met, hardly know, or will likely never encounter, whose competence outshines the vast and endless ego of your own self-assessment.

Where does such self-delusion originate?  And are there more such self-assurances in modernity than times of yore, when the steady hand of methodical progression marked the greater component of accomplishment than the technological rapidity of keyboard firing squads?  Or, of that other boast that one’s work has already been completed an hour into a workday, while others move in segments of slow motion, like a reel of film stuck in the ink spot of eternal delay?  What ever happened to the idea of a team effort, a communal approach, or even of a collective combine of aggregate accomplishments, where personal valor and individual recognition is sacrificed for the greater whole?

In modernity, in this millennial, during these self-aggrandized times, the focus of vulnerability is based upon an egocentric mirror of reflective selfishness.  As one has been taught throughout grammar school and higher education that the war hero is merely likened to a sports hero, where the term “courage” is another fungible word that can be applied as much to the battlefield as to a spectator sport of button-pushing, so the worth of an individual is relatively compared to a production quota, like mere means to the end of a drama.

In the administrative law of Federal Disability Retirement, that sense of worth is greatly diminished and deliberatively demeaned by the hostile attitude towards a Federal or Postal employee with a medical condition.  Don’t think that the years of productive accomplishments touted previously will mean a farthing’s worth of reserved good will; it means nothing.  What is done today and promised tomorrow are the two components of meaningful discourse; any delay or doubt evinced by one’s medical condition, is but a red-light indicator for termination or administrative sanctions.

For Federal and Postal employees who can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is indeed a means to an end – to escape the growing boast of that Supervisor or Manager who believes that the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition is the same one who hinders by being an obstacle of existence for doing the work of 10 people, when in fact he or she is merely one of a greater collective effort, nor more than the worth of the dismissive “you”.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire