OPM Disability Retirement: The Semblance of Joy

Happiness is but a fleeting moment; satisfaction is but the natural result of completion; but joy, that is a tincture derived from the depths of one’s soul.  Perhaps there is an element of word-play; how we define levels of emotional states of being can depend upon the contextual usage of each conceptual construct, and in the end it is how we have described a given set of circumstances, based upon our personal experiential encounters and what sense of being we perceived at the time.

Beyond the veil of words, casting aside the layers of callouses which we have carefully built up over the years in order to survive the daily onslaught of venom in this world lacking of empathy or cooperative caring for one’s fellow human being, it is when a traumatic event suddenly befalls us that the true state of our souls becomes apparent.

Medical conditions have a tendency to magnify the reality of our state of existence.  Suddenly, perspectives become skewed; realities once depended upon appear suspicious; and we begin to lie to ourselves and take on a semblance of joy.  Why is that?  Is it because we fear the truth of human cruelty?  That despite all of the allegedly cultural advancements and technological innovations we pride ourselves about, the truth of our evolutionary baseness has never changed:  the vulnerable are merely meals for the predator in waiting.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such a state of affairs is nothing new.  Agencies begin to pile on; coworkers shun; supervisors increase the level of vitriol and punish through administrative sanctions and progressive pressures through threats and intimidating language; and, all the while, the dedicated Federal or Postal worker must suffer through with limited options and constricted avenues slowly being blocked and cordoned off as restricted zones no longer open, where once the brightness of tomorrow promised the world.

For Federal and Postal employees finding themselves in the untenable position of having a medical condition, such that the medical condition is preventing him or her from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, it may be time to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

When once the Federal or Postal worker comes to a realization that the bet upon happiness cannot be placed upon one’s employment or career, and where satisfaction is no longer a possibility with the mission of an agency; when the exhaustion and fatigue of hiding behind the semblance of joy begins to constrict and close in, like the human figure behind a Noh mask covering the claustrophobia of existence; then, it is time to consider taking on the long road of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether you as the Federal or Postal employee are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Paradigm Shifts and the Federal Employee Disability Retirement System, an Option That Was Always There

Paradigms are meant to shift.  A non-shifting paradigm means that there is an inherent and entrenched belief system which refuses to accommodate changes.  Certain principles can retain such intractable resistance; deeply-held systems based upon historical convention, customs and cultural foundations should never be discarded without a rational basis; but to hold on to a set of beliefs without a foundational methodology of defending the very core of a system, is to merely do something out of habit.  And that is the point, isn’t it?  Actions based upon habit for habit’s sake, are mere thoughtless and unjustified movements.

Work often becomes such an unprovoked endeavor; for, to engage in mindless, repetitive modalities, provides a semblance of security and safeguards.  Then, when a medical condition interrupts one’s life, you begin to miss the mundane.  For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s job, the yearning for that time before when the monotony of repetitive work provided the assurance of routine and repose, begins to magnify with exponential significance.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, should always be an option.  If one pauses because the paradigm which one operates under has become intractable and entrenched, it is time to consider a paradigm shift.  It is not only in science that paradigm shifts are necessary; and, indeed, Thomas Kuhn’s contribution to the historical perspective of scientific progression has taught us much, both as to disciplines, as well as for individuals.

The shifting of one’s own paradigm may be the first important shift in making a proper decision concerning the preparatory steps in filing for Federal OPM Disability Retirement; and that is the key, both in science, and in one’s own personal life and endeavors.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Frameworks

To be successful in any endeavor, one must identify the relevant issues, sift through and discard the peripheral contents, and maintain a thematic thread throughout in order to keep the focus upon the essence of the project. Anyone who has attended a meeting which lacks a subject-matter focus, and where a free-for-all is allowed, without a circumscribed set of agendas, can attest to the importance of setting priorities and understanding the difference between points of significance and irrelevant detractions.

Frames are important, and sometimes as much as the painting itself.  For, art is merely a slice of the greater exposure to life, and it is the frame which distinguishes that parcel of perspective and allows the viewer to participate in a moment of time and a pause for reflection.  For the Federal or Postal Worker who is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important to provide a “roadmap” to OPM, and thus circumscribe the framework of the relevant attachments, medical and legal issues to be evaluated, and the pathway to resolutions preemptively proposed.

Thus, the three tiers of an effective framework should include: (1) A clear and concise Statement of Disability (here, one must be careful because of the legal consequences of failing to include and fully describe the medical conditions), (2) A reference to the relevancy of the attached documents which support the statement, and (3) the pertinent legal foundations which are satisfied by the first two tiers.

He who frames the picture has the power to direct the viewer’s perspective; for, it is the frame which enhances the content of the artistry, and directs the appreciation to an irrelevant empty sky in a schematically unimportant corner of the painting, or to the central theme where the brilliance of bursting colors explode forth in magnificent reflections of a masterpiece’s slice of life.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Cumulative Impact

In economics, the concept of cumulative growth is important in understanding the progressive and incremental increase, no matter how minimal in the short term, over decades and centuries upon an individual’s and the greater society’s wealth accumulation.  It is based upon the theoretical construct of cumulative growth that fortunes are created and retirement wealth is amassed.

Flat sorting machines at USPS distribution centers

Repetitive type of injuries are common when working with Flat Sorting Machines at USPS distribution centers

As a hypothetical parallelism, what consequence would such incremental but cumulative impact have upon one’s health and well-being?  If repetitive physical stress of a seemingly insignificant quantity were to impact a wrist, a knee, a shoulder, etc., would such de minimis physical pressure acquire a different result years and decades down the road?

Is it not tantamount to radioactive exposure, where the human tissue or organ can have effective resistance to contained amounts, but over time, can begin to deteriorate and cause tumors and mutated cells resulting in cancer? Or like the prisoner who digs his way out of prison with a pen knife — one scrape at a time until a hole large enough to accommodate one’s head and body is created over months and years? Or of stresses resulting in anxiety and panic attacks; perhaps at first a twinge of needle pricks, then after months and years, an overwhelming inability to breathe properly, until reactions of the need to take sudden flight, or paralysis of muscle movements and an inability to speak or move?

Maintaining poor sitting postures for long periods of time

Maintaining poor sitting postures for long periods of time may increase the risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)

For Federal and Postal employees who have had a long and productive career with the Federal Government or the U.S. Postal Service, the mystery of cumulative impact upon one’s health, through repetitive, incremental, and insidious influences withstood over time, often results in self-denial and a sense of failure.  But there is a limit as to what the human body and psyche can take on.

Federal Disability Retirement benefits are simply an employment component offered to all Federal and Postal employees, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, filed ultimately with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and is merely an intelligent recognition by the Federal Government that the limitations of human invincibility can be addressed by allowing for a change of careers, by providing for a foundational security to one’s livelihood. Federal Disability Retirement — a viable option in recognition of the age-old concept of cumulative impact, both in economics and in the complex world we occupy.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: The Indelible Mark

In our younger days, we all began careers with the intent of achieving that “indelible mark” — that fingerprint upon history, or perhaps in a microcosmic way, upon our local community; with grandiose plans of accomplishments; of recognition among our peers, family & neighbors.

In a theological context, the concept of an “indelible mark” represents a sacramental presence; in the secular world, one expects money, fame and public recognition to be the fruits of one’s labor.  In either event, it is that mark which cannot be erased, will not be deleted, and must not be ignored, which people strive to attain.  But in the course of maturing, one realizes the essence and priorities of life; that fame is fleeting, if relevant at all; and the mark which one truly desires is based not upon a transcendence beyond history, but of human relationships which are formed in the here and now.

Thus, for the Federal and Postal employee who has put in the long and heavy work hours in order to accomplish the mission of the agency, the poignancy of those important things in life come to the fore when a medical condition begins to impact one’s daily living.  The struggle just to survive makes for a magnification of the priorities of human relationships.  No longer is the “indelible mark” of much importance; rather, one begins to feel that those who attempt to make such a footprint in history are the very ones who contribute to and exacerbate one’s medical conditions.

Sometimes, it is the wise course of action to be willing to admit that grand visions of greatness were merely artifices left for youth and those who dream of things beyond human relationships.  When a medical condition begins to impact one’s ability/inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, it is time for the Federal or Postal employee to consider taking a Federal Disability Retirement, and to walk away from the very forum which may have contributed to one’s decline.

Federal Disability Retirement allows for a person to start a “new beginning”, to have a time of reconstituted period of rehabilitation; and to move forward in another, separate vocation in life. Leave an indelible mark upon one’s family, friends and community, by emphasizing that which is of value:  life, health, relationships and empathetic interactions; for, in the end, that mark which brings a momentary smile upon another, is the mark which is truly indelible.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: No Need for an Apology

Federal Disability Retirement benefits exist for Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS or CSRS, for two primary purposes:  (A)  to allow a Federal or Postal employee who has a medical condition which prevents him or her from performing all of the essential elements of his or her job, to receive an annuity because of one’s service to the Federal Sector, based upon minimum qualification criteria (18 months of Federal Service under FERS; 5 years under CSRS) and (B) to encourage that Federal or Postal employee to continue to contribute in the private sector, but working at some other job, and begin a “second” career, if possible.  

It is not an entitlement; it is a benefit which is progressive in the sense that it recognizes a compassionate need to compensate in return for the many years that the Federal or Postal employee has contributed to the work force, as well as recognizing the intelligent paradigm of encouraging continuing contribution in a different career path.  Most Federal and Postal employees do not “want” to file for, or become eligible to receive, Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  

It is not a “choice”.  Rather, most Federal and Postal employees, after many, many years of service, have come to a point of recognition in both the extent, severity and chronicity of their medical conditions, as well as the progressively deteriorating impact upon his or her ability to perform all of the essential elements of the job, that continuing in the same daily struggle with life is inconsistent with retention and continuation in the Federal Service.  

It is a benefit which is part of the total compensation package that one signed onto when one became a Federal or Postal employee.  No apologies are needed to file for the medical benefit; it is merely the consummation of a contract, agreed to and signed for at the beginning of one’s career.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Obtaining the Doctor’s Support

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is important to garner the support of the treating doctor

Such needed support is obvious; it is, after all, a paper presentation to the Office of Personnel Management (despite the move to a “paperless” society, the conceptual application is still relevant; for, whether paperless or not, some mode of presentation must still be forwarded to the Office of Personnel Management).  As such, one should be prepared to discuss with one’s treating doctor the “medical” benefits of filing for Federal Disability Retirement — and not just focus upon the administrative and legal efforts which must be engaged. 

Thus, for example, one should inform the doctor that obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS does not prevent one from seeking other, alternate employment — one which will not medically exacerbate the conditions which one is suffering from.  As such, going out on Federal Disability Retirement has a therapeutic impact, inasmuch as it (1) allows one to recover by ceasing the type of current work and (2) as work is often considered good therapy, it allows for productivity in another, separate area.  

Remember that a treating doctor’s concern is focused upon the medical health of the patient; persuading a doctor to support one’s Federal Disability Retirement application should thus focus upon the concerns of the doctor.  Persuasion must always take into account the “other’s” concerns.  That is the key to effective persuasion.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire