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


Federal Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Plato and Play-Doh

If a person says to another, “Have you used Play-Doh” and he answers, “Well, yes, but only as it applies to certain situations in my life.  Otherwise, I tend to rely upon Aristotle in a more pragmatic, scientific approach.”

Somewhat taken aback, the inquiring mind restates his position, saying, “No, no, I meant, have you played with Play-Doh?” Still not distinguishing between the inserted alternative of a consonant (the “D” in Play-Doh as opposed to the “t” in Plato), the responding individual states again, “Well, conceptually Plato is difficult to ‘play with’, as you state it, in that you have to first understand the conceptual paradigms he posits, then…” and the same person goes on to provide a full-fledged, half hour dissertation on the esoteric aspects of a Dead White Irrelevant Philosopher (otherwise known by the acronym, a “DWIP”).

At this point, frustrated, the inquisitive interrogator walks away, throwing his hands up in complete confusion and befuddlement.  What does one do?  How is the incommensurate encounter resolved?  Question: Does the fact that we “hold” in the base of our minds a certain spelling of a word make a difference as to intent and deliberative motive, when what we “speak” out into the objective world makes the receptor of the word, phrase or sentence interpret it as something different from that image that we behold in our minds?

How does one close the chasm between subjective thoughts and objective reality?  Do we approach it in a different way – and does the problem really remain in the subjective domain of the questioning individual insofar as he or she is unable to, incapable of, or otherwise unwilling to alter the originating course of his posited query?

In other words, shouldn’t the person have restated his conceptual query in the following manner: “Oh, I see.  You must have misunderstood.  I am talking about ‘Play-Doh’ – the clay-like substance that we all used to play with as children, and I thought I saw some when I visited your house the other day.”  To which the responder should appropriately state, “Ah, I see now.  You must excuse me. I am concurrently reading Plato’s Dialogues and I mistook your question to be referring to that.”

It is, then, the capacity to listen carefully, to recognize the response given, then to respond back appropriately and relevantly that often dissipates any compelling reason to become frustrated.

Similarly, for Federal and Postal employees who are attempting to respond to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s subsequent queries, or even in response to the Statement of Disability’s questions (SF 3112A) that need to be answered, the Federal or Postal employee who is attempting to formulate an effective Federal Disability Retirement application must take care in bridging that gap between subjective reality and objective communication.

There are many “tricks” to the “trade”, and OPM has probably dealt with them all; but the one trick that OPM cannot ultimately ignore, is the tricky web of legal precedents and prior MSPB and Federal Circuit Court decisions that compel them to act in ways that they cannot forego.  Legal argumentation is an art form that should not be ignored, and whether you are asking about Plato or Play-Doh, remember always to include in any Federal Disability Retirement application an effective legal argument that persuasively argues the legal precedents applicable in your case.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Disability Retirement from Federal Employment: Magnum Opus

It is applied as the masterpiece and pinnacle of achievement, but is more generally referred to as the identifying crown for an individual of some notable accomplishment in the various fields and disciplines.  There are looser forms of using the term, of course, in common parlance, in a half-joking, half-serious manner; as in referring to one’s spouse with greater humility, or events that occurred with greater consequences than expected or foreseen.  Like Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D Minor or Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”, the Magnum Opus represents the pinnacle of one’s achievement in the career of a chosen field, or within a discipline one was merely destined for.

Most of us, of course, never reach that height of human achievement recognized and lauded by a standard of excellence the world around; mediocrity is the lot of most, and that is okay, so long as the achievements made within the confines of private lives are accorded a similar standard striving to reflect the apex of human worth.  For, the Magnum Opus can be in the simple act of kindness in daily living – of bringing in the garbage can of an elderly neighbor too frail to wander out on a snow-fallen morning, or giving a shelter animal a chance at some semblance of happiness and contentment, and diminishing the violent memories of prior mistreatment and maltreatment.

In the end, it is not the marking of graves with epitaphs of grandeur that matter – though we may fantasize of jealousy and envy overwhelming relatives we disliked, visiting the tombstone of our own creation and smirking at the largesse accorded by a public never quite knowing but the public figure of accomplishments we deign to applaud – but of unmarked ones that are visited by a family left behind, empty with an aching heart for the laughter that we brought, the joy we helped enliven, and the fleeting moment of happiness that encompassed the otherwise dreary lot of a population confused between sex and love.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who has believed that the Magnum Opus of one’s fortunes were somehow tied up inextricably in the career path of a Federal agency or Postal facility, rethinking the paradigm is tantamount to a heretical utterance of unfathomable delay.  There is life beyond a Federal agency’s mission (though you may not discern it well from the attitudes of coworkers and Supervisors), and there is importance and relevance beyond the Postal facility one has worked for.

When a medical condition comes to a point where one cannot meet the expectations of that grand “mission” that has been a constant drone of contention, it might be time to consider preparing, formulating and filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  Don’t let the Magnum Opus of one’s career be on the downturn of one’s accomplishments because blind fealty to an agency or the U.S. Postal Service has stopped any forward progress; instead, it may be for the next phase of one’s life that the unmarked grave is visited upon with an epitaph still to be written.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The divided relic

If an ancient relic of sacred origins must always travel with wherever a community, a tribe or an individual must go, can its essence remain intact despite being divided into multiple forms?  Can a divided populace split into two its sacredly-held relic, whether for theological reasons of disputatious incommensurability, or simply resulting from an old-fashioned “I don’t like them anymore” conflict that has erupted into an irreconcilable fissure?  In other words, is the sacredness of the relic contained in the essence of the thing itself, or by the bonding influence of the people who view that item of antiquity with awe and frightful respect?

Whether a sacred scroll or a Bible (which, obviously, would be difficult to divide), or a crystalline object, an ancient arrow holding magical powers or an assortment of divinations empowered by a rich history of spiritual conquests — whether such relics can retain their efficacy for a community divided, might depend upon the strength of the belief itself, and the foundational reliance upon such antiquities of thought-processes.

That is, perhaps, one of the many problems of modernity; we no longer have the capacity to believe in the power of ancient relics, divided or not; and, instead, we put our faith into the predetermination of a Darwinian paradigm, where the gene pools of those who have survived merely contribute to the greater sense of invincibility within a genetically maladjusted populace of pure materialism.  Thus do we abandon all sacred rites of passage and living – of entrance into adulthood, marriage, the sacrament of forgiveness and the commodity of grace.

The divided relic does not lose its powers because of the division into pieces greedily and hastily fractured by human conflict, but because the very act itself merely reflects a broken heart no longer tethered by faith, belief, community or commonality of belonging.  No – it is because we have accepted fractured lives as a justification for dividing sacred relics, that the very sanctity of the relic itself has been diminished and sullied.

Indeed, that is what happens in the Federal sector and the U.S. Postal Service, with people and the workplace itself.  No, there are no sacred relics to be divided in the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, but there can be – should be – a sense of commonality of purpose and an empathy undivided such that the work and missions of the entity itself can be carried forth with a purposeful intent.  The strength of that sense of cohesion, however, is often reflected when a Federal or Postal employee is beset with a medical condition, and must file a 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.

If the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal facility responds with supportive empathy (rarely seen), then that sense of an undivided and worthy relic remains like a residue of bright hope; but, more often than not, it is the opposite effect that is seen – of a divided relic reflected in the pool of harshness and indifference revealed by human depravity, by harassment, intimidation and scorn within the community of Federal and Postal workers.

Such a state of affairs when responding to a Federal or Postal worker who is in the process of going through the administrative trials of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through OPM is reflective of this state of modernity, where the divided relic can so heartlessly be accomplished without concern for the essence of one’s soul.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Medical Retirement from USPS or other Federal Agencies: Solomon’s choice

Even in this age of millennial ignorance of ancients, literary or biblical references to arcane metaphors (while taking delight in such useless information as the minutiae of Sanskrit grammar), the general view that King Solomon’s judgment was profoundly wise, is accepted without argument.  Yet, were his assumptions correct, and do they apply today?  Is it presumptively reasonable that love of child would rise above the other emotions felt – of jealousy, perhaps, or envy of the other mother – and declare the truth of the hidden motive?  Is there a priority or order of sequence that necessarily mandates truth to manifest itself, when the choice is one of death, loss, sacrifice and the horror of splitting a baby into two?

Of course, beyond the significance of the epic story itself, is the metaphor we are left with in living our daily lives – of making a choice between honor and its opposite, or of Truth and Falsity; of enduring for the sake of X as opposed to sacrificing in the light of Y.  To embrace a Solomon’s choice is to accept that there is a binary presentation in life’s offerings, and while that is often the appearance of a case, it is the stark reality of the limitations of alternatives available, that makes a decision to be made difficult and unenviable.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must endure and “deal with” a medical condition, such that the medical condition has come to a point of interference with many of life’s major activities, including employment and performing the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, the options presented are often binary, and sometimes adding another to create a trinity of choices.

The Federal or Postal employee can remain and endure; or, if the Federal or Postal employee has met the minimum eligibility requirements (18 months of creditable Federal Service and an evidentiary basis of showing that a medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job), consideration should be given to preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

The “other” choice, of course, is to walk away and do nothing; but that is, in effect, no choice at all, for the time invested and accrued in one’s Federal or Postal career should never be discarded and forgotten, especially when the second option is there to be accessed.

In the end, perhaps Solomon’s choice was, likewise, parallel to that “third” option which resulted in the decisions made, and as a consequence, bore the fruits for the future Trinity.  To split the baby in half could never have been a serious consideration, just like walking away without trying should rarely be considered by a Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition which prevents him or her from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.  Solomon’s offer was, of course, a wise one; for, in the end, he knew that such a choice was an untenable one, just as the Federal or Postal employee knows that filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is the one which will ultimately be the wise one.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Private thoughts, public offerings

The bifurcation of human contemplation can take many forms, and rarely do they conflict with each other, unless the former is involuntarily injected into the cauldron of the latter.  One can hold private thoughts contrary to one’s public image; and the public self can contradict the private soul without a condemnation of hypocrisy, so long as the two are never manifested as unconcealed revelations of surprised protocols.

We suspect that exacting consistency between the former and latter has never existed in the history of mankind – beginning with the dawn of hunters who trembled with an inner fear so violent that want of flight was paused only by the shame that would prevail at the tribal dance where bravery, conquest and manhood are celebrated; or in more “civilized” settings when socialites raised eyebrows upon behaviors deemed uncouth and agrarian, where divisions of social consciousness resulted from the miscreant amassing of wealth previously unknown.

Can resentment be concealed in a long-enduring marriage, or fear of death be tightly coiled within the heart of a warrior?  The samurai who gave his fearless allegiance to the daimyo, who in turn swore body and soul to the Shogun – did they avert the openness of their trembling by dispensing favors and accolades to the underlings who disseminated the fearsome bloodlettings?  And what of politicians today – the acceptability of having a “private belief” contrary to the “public stance” – do they constitute a hypocrisy, or an acceptable division of setting aside personal feelings for the greater good in public service?

Often, the misguided confusion arising between a conflict of contrasting private thoughts and public offerings, is just that:  We fail to contemplate the ends thought, and mix the means for motives untold, and in the muddle of such a conundrum of confusion, think that it reflects upon the meanness of our own souls, without recognizing that human frailty must always allow for a bit of good humor, if we are to survive the self-flagellation of our inner desires.

Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers have this same problem – of fealty and loyalty to a Federal daimyo or Postal Shogunate without considering the misguided and irrational basis of such compelling inconsistency.  The thought that loyalty to an agency or fealty to the Postal Service must continue despite hostility and abuse perpetrated merely for suffering from a medical condition brought on through no fault of the Postal worker or Federal employee, is tantamount to the bifurcation between private thoughts and public offerings:  publicly, in the company of coworkers, supervisors and managers, the smile of contentment and membership in the agency’s team spirit must be on full display; privately, the suspicions and paranoia mount because of the workplace hostility engaged by others.

Betrayal itself is often a misguided embracing of a blind trust; you cannot betray those who have already undermined your every turn.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a very private matter, precisely because it involves the most private of information – one’s medical condition and the records which reveal the intimate and private details of it all.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, first through one’s own Agency or H.R. Department, then to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is a “public” act in many ways, and it is that act alone which often makes one pause.  But this is where the “rub” must be faced:  In order to access a public right (filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits), some extent of the private information (the medical condition; doctor’s narratives, office and treatment notes, etc.) must be “offered”.  Yes, it is a difficult decision – but one which must be faced in order to get beyond the private hell within the cauldron of the public hostility and workplace harassment which will only continue until an effective Federal Disability Retirement application is approved by OPM.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire