OPM Medical Retirement: The Categorical Imperative

It is, of course, the foundation of Kant’s moral philosophy; of the unconditional call to act in a certain way, accepted and mandated precisely because there is no room for question.  But that life were so easy; automatons would simply act in mechanistic ways, driven by moral certitude; free will could be determined by the comforting thought that universal codes of conduct shall always confine and direct.  And bureaucracies would always make decisions within a framework of computational algorithms.

But Federal Disability Retirement is not a matter of a diagnosis; unlike Social Security Disability, which does contain a semblance of categorical imperatives when it comes to certain medical conditions, the preponderance of the proof needed in becoming eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is threefold: First, the minimum number of years under FERS (18 months of creditable Federal Service) or CSRS (5 years, which is presumably already met by everyone in that retirement system); Second, a medical condition which came into existence during the time of Federal Service (with some arguable exceptions within one (1) year of being separated from Federal Service); and Third, a nexus of relevant impact between one’s medical condition and the essential elements of one’s positional duties one performs for the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

It is this third step in the process which effectively compels one to step outside of the identification of Federal Disability Retirement laws as containing an element of the categorical imperative; for, in the end, it is not simply an evaluation of “which category” one falls into, but rather, how significant and persuasive is the bridge built upon between the two primary land masses:  one’s medical condition (land mass #1) and the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job (land mass #2).

That metaphorical “bridge” must be constructed with care, clarity, and concrete argumentation of persuasive force in order to withstand the inspecting scrutiny of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Look upon it as if OPM is walking through the construction site with a hard hat, pen in hand and taking notes furiously in attempting to discover deficiencies in the qualification standards imposed.  Jumping up and down and screaming at the inspector that the bridge fits into a pre-defined category will not suffice; instead, the categorical imperative must be argued for by pointing to the medical evidence, the law, and the connective tissues which form the effective and persuasive confluence of all of the elements which comprise the ultimate imperative of life:  that of a methodology of argumentation that one is “right”.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


The Devaluation of the Federal Employee with Disabilities

Countries engage it deliberately with its currencies; economic circumstances force it based upon fluctuating market volatility; and the basic principles in capitalism of supply and demand will often expect it.

Currencies are never stable indexes despite the best attempts by countries to manage and control their economies; the fact is, in this interconnected world of global economic entanglement, devaluation of worth can occur overnight, just after the soft breathing of nightfall overtakes, but before the dawn of first light when the halls of stock markets in faraway colonnades lined in symmetrical facades open their doors for the business of commodity markets.

Fortunes can be made, and lost, overnight; but the devaluation of that which implicates worth, can just as easily fall upon the human soul.  Medical conditions tend to do that.  We exchange, trade, value and appraise based upon a commodity’s supply, demand, desire and greed of want; but when it comes to human beings, though we deny such callous approaches, the encounter with such baseness still prevails.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker, facing devaluation is nothing out of the ordinary when a medical condition hits.  Once the Federal or Postal worker suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the avenue of choices becomes starkly clear:  One can try to hang on; one can walk away with nothing to show for those many years of dedicated and loyal service; or one can file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

It is the last of the tripartite alternatives which is the best option, and one which can secure a future for the Federal or Postal employee.  For, ultimately, the whole point of devaluation in paradigms of economic theory, is to stabilize the currency for future years; it is the experience of short-term suffering to attain long-term calm.  Economics is merely a microcosmic reflection of a macro-global perspective, and application of parallel principles are relevant to situations which might otherwise appear foreign.

Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service engage in devaluation, just as governments do, when the worth of the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker is seen in terms of productivity for the moment, and not for the long-term benefit gained for the future.

We live in a world of short selling trades; everything is seen for the immediacy of gain; but fortunately for the Federal or Postal worker who must contend with the attitude and approach of a Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service in viewing the devaluation of the worker based upon productivity, the option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is one which is available, attractive, and allowable for those who are eligible to prepare, formulate and file for the benefit.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire