Disability Retirement from Working with the Federal Government: Originality

It is a frightening word; for, it is what we all strive for, yet almost always fall short, fail or attempt to justify and obfuscate for not quite reaching that goal.

Fortunately, there are at least two, but likely an infinite number of, avenues of avoidance in being charged with its lack:  First, and fortunately, plagiarism is not a criminal offense and, moreover, no one really seems to care except in the most egregious of instances, and furthermore, for those professing to be constrained by Catholic orthodoxy, it isn’t even a venial sin, let alone a mortal one.

Second (and ad infinitum as to the corollaries, so that we do not have to go beyond the phrase, “And secondly” or engage in the Internet’s most popular search engine contrivances that always includes, “Five ways to..” or the “Ten most important…”), there is always an excuse for its lack, beginning with:  “Well, I did the best I could”; “It’s not so important to be unique as to feel good about yourself”, and the dead ringer:  “There is no originality left; everything has already been spoken for.”

Is that why the period between “the original” and “the remake” keeps becoming shorter and shorter?  Is it an unavoidable truism that – from themes and plots for stories, novels and other similar genres, to television shows and movies, as well as songs and artworks – there is a limit of finite constraints that even human creativity cannot avoid?

History reveals that originality of profound dimensions will arise in spurts and burps; from Continental Europe’s juggernaut of painters and writers, to America’s continuum of astounding literary greats including Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Updike to Vonnegut; and, in the great tradition and power of the Russian novelists and playwrights, from Dostoevsky to Chekhov and multiple others, without even reaching back to centuries preceding, the originality of works steeped in profound insights cannot be denied.

Has modernity followed a similar course, or has the bludgeoning of unceasing informational overload tempered the capacity of human creativity?

There is a known, coy quip about the formulaic recipe for great literary or visual works:  “Have a terrible childhood, and write about it.”  Thus, such a perspective is reinforced by Dickens and other coconspirators.  A cousin to that rule is to live through political turmoil under repressive circumstances, and the validation for that is revealed by Eastern European and South American writers of current vintage, especially now that translations have been improved and perfected.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the concern about originality should enter but only in a cursory manner.

Facts must guide; the evidence will prevail.

In preparing answers to the connivances of questions required on SF 3112A (Applicant’s Statement of Disability), do not try to be “original” in writing the narrative of one’s life, medical conditions and the impact upon one’s positional duties.

Remember always the other quip that must be recognized:  That each individual is already a paradigm of the original, and while the narrative engaged may not always be unique, and the reviewer at OPM may have “seen one and seen them all”, it is nevertheless one of a kind whether recognized and acknowledged by others, precisely because the life-experiences the Federal Disability Retirement applicant has endured has been nothing but original in the first instance.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Employee Disability Retirement Program: Word Piles

The etymology connotes the Biblical narrative found in Genesis, generally referred to as the Tower of Babel; in that case, not of words, but of civilizations attempting to reach the heavens in order to breach the power of the universe.  But Babel was more than the diaspora of a rebellious cabal of God’s children gathered to defy and deface; it had to do with evil, impure intent, and the conspiracy of human depravity in the face of a pure heaven and the violation of man’s sacrosanct relationship implicit after the metaphor of the Great Flood.

Words, likewise, hold such a contractual connection.  They were meant to convey the differentiation between Truth and Falsity, and to correspond to the objective universe in communicating the worth and beauty of a sanctified world.  The defamation of that level of spiritual relationship was violated not because of the tower’s construction; rather, Babel’s unanswerable sin had to do with the depravity of the human heart, and the essence of a soul’s darkening.

Whatever the motivation of the gathering’s aggregate will never be known; and of individual reasons for participating in the construction of such a structure, we can only guess at; but what is clear is that the response was one of anger, and such reaction must have had a reason:  the dispersion was both an explanation of the state of current affairs, a forewarning for any who might consider future similar actions, and a consequence of man’s violation of a once-sacred right.

Modernity suffers from a parallel state of affairs.  Though clinging to the paradigm of a Darwinian explanation of human history, and devoid of everything spiritual, mythological or generational transfers of traditional narratives, the metaphorical pile of words we amass reflect not just an attempt to become gods ourselves, but in the very process, to rebel against the very foundation of what words were meant to accomplish.

Once upon a time, in the flickering shadows and glow from fires where the village gathered to hear the storytelling ancients of the town historian, sorcerer and magic healer, the traditions carried forth from the inception of timelessness into the mysteries of the heart would pierce like the spear of the warrior, and children listened with wide-eyed wonder at the shaman who effortlessly rolled the tales from tongues emitting not mere sounds, but images and shadows of pictures more frightening than the lion’s roar or the wild boar’s tusks.

Words spoken, meant something, then.  Truth was bundled in the very telling of the tale; and falsity reflected the depravity of man’s heart, confounded by the loss of innocence in a world gone mad.

We can still get a sense of that — that encounter with words, meaning and truth; and, indeed, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must convey facts, circumstances and narratives of human experience when preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the piling of words upon words must convey a test of reality, and a dose of the shaman’s storytelling.

Preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application is, in the end, not just creating a word pile; it is to communicate the essence of the human condition in a world which often fails to listen, and refuses to hear.  That is why it is important to formulate it effectively, accurately, and with a coherence beyond mere word piling, lest the fall be a cloud of dust greater than the collapse of the Tower of Babel.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Government Employee Medical Retirement: The missing comma

To what extent does language influence life?  As a mode of communication, sounds and utterances can certainly be restricted to a minimum, without threatening survivability; and in the history of our vast universe of words, thoughts and conceptual constructs embedded in dusty warehouses of discarded books, manuscripts and love letters tucked away in drawers once meant to safely keep where memorabilia of treasures remain unrevealed, does the competence of applying grammatical rules matter, anymore?

Do the dominos of historical reverberation fall in fated inevitability — like the missing comma which resulted in a lesser grade for the boy who would be king, but because of the diminished mark, failed to meet the expectations of a royal family who favored the second child, anyway, and beheaded the law of primogeniture; and thus did inevitability fade, history alter, and the child-king who would not be turned to savagery and the took revenge upon the world by becoming a little-known mass-murderer but to those whom he slaughtered.

Can the course of history be altered by the lack of placement of such a curved indentation of fate?  Where, just a fraction of a distance above, it is but an apostrophe which betrays the possessive embrace of a noun standing beside, but for the careless droppings which turn it into a comma?  Sometimes, of course, the misplaced comma can change the entire context and meaning of a sentence, and then the question becomes, do such misinterpretations have any force of impact, anymore, to the extent of interceding in the life of an individual?

Language is a peculiar invention; among other species, we recognize sounds, murmurings and signals to communicate; but to constitute the higher level of combining thought with words spoken and concepts written, requires an advancement of evolutionary uniqueness not discovered by fellow beings of other natures.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must communicate and convince because of a medical condition, where the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal positional duties, trying to maneuver through the administrative chaos of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management with an effective Federal Disability Retirement application — as ensconced in SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability — is the highest of tests in the usage of language as a tool of persuasive activity.

It may not seem so, as any encounter with a bureaucratic maze will often appear to be merely an arduous chore of necessity; but, in fact, engaging a behemoth and arguing it from its slumber of overwhelmed caseload is a reflection of man’s penultimate destiny of a chance meeting between grammar and life undeservedly faced:  Of whether the missing comma is of relevance, anymore, in this age where the possessive pronoun no longer matters when a computer can delete the words left unsent.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The heckler

We see them from afar, as lone voices suddenly erupting with disruptive force, often barely audible, sometimes unintelligible, but rarely unnoticed.  In some corners of the world, their acts can become dangerous; inciting violence, being put upon by the surrounding crowd; their license to interrupt has been somewhat muted by the responsive threat of retaliation, voiced in more recent days.  Most of us sit back and wonder who “those” people are — such fury and passion to deliberately interject without invitation or welcome, and with the full knowledge that the subsequent events will lead to being either escorted out in less than gentle ways, or set upon in more violent fashion.

Are there causes which still exist, worth fighting for, anymore?  Is it just boiled-over frustration against a political firestorm of ineptitude and economic vicissitudes which leaves the ordinary person powerless and voiceless?  Or, is that interruptor a paid badger from another camp, merely acting as an apparently passionate interlocutor, but nothing more in reality than an employed spoiler to reveal the disarray of discontent allegedly felt by the greater populace?

It is a tradition of American politics, certainly, to have the presence of at least one heckler rise from the quietude of the sheep’s fold; and like the wolf covered by the lamb’s clothing, with barely an eye peeping through to gauge the exact timing for the sudden uproar, the impertinence of a question posed, a harassing shout and a barrage of epithets and garbled sentences drowned out by a sea of groans from around; does it all really matter?

There have always been hecklers of time and badgers of dishonor; and like the crowd which follows blindly in sequence of movements, such temporary interruption of a planned event is but merely a nuisance of life tolerated.  How we treat the heckler is but a reflection of life itself. For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have a similar interruption of “the event” of life, such as a medical condition which cuts short the Federal or Postal career, and where a responsive interlude must follow — filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the only choice left, and the best alternative to pursue.

Suddenly, it becomes the “quiet one” who must turn and heckle; for the Federal Disability Retirement applicant is often that part of the crowd which never made waves and rarely complained, but merely went about his or her business and accomplished quietly the “mission” of the agency or the daily repetition of work at the Postal Service.  Then, suddenly, the Federal or Postal worker was “singled out” as the “troublemaker” — all because of a medical condition which the Federal or Postal worker never asked for, never wanted, and rarely complained about.  But like the heckler who knows of the oncoming consequences, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is surely a cause worth fighting for — despite the rude exit which is certain to follow.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: Privacy and the parody which excites

The bifurcation between public and private issues has been blurred to such an extent that the social norms which once prevailed no longer apply.  Public figures constantly complain about the intrusion of unwanted exposure, and yet they generate and welcome their wealth precisely by means of voluntarily submitting to such magnified scrutiny.  Notoriety in modernity results in the accumulation of a fattened checkbook; protestations aside, it is hollow hypocrisy indeed to claim violation of trespass.

In purely private lives, that which was once discreetly implied, but otherwise remained concealed, is now publicly displayed on Facebook, tweeted on Twitter, and exposed on Websites throughout the ethereal universe of the Internet.  While not formally designated as a “secret”, and perhaps not even covered under confidentiality terms, there was a general sense and acceptance that certain functions, both bodily and otherwise revelatory of actions within the strict confines of plaster walls, need not, should not, and would not be displayed for public consumption.  Of course, hackers burglarize for purposes of nefarious means, but aside from access to financial divestitures, it turns out that much of the information exposed had already previously been displayed, anyway.  Nevertheless, we feign violative dismay and engage in the parody of life where access of private lives excites the worst within us.

Medical information, of course, remains somewhat in a different category; although, from the confessions revealed in television commercials of medications available for conditions which would bring the pink of blushing to grandmothers of yore, one questions whether anything is left sacrosanct, anymore.  But that is the ultimate distinction to be made, isn’t it?  We can talk of medical conditions unwedded to a particular individual, and it remains acceptable; once the medical condition is identified with a specific person, and revealed, then a violation of privacy has occurred.  Aside from standing in line at the Post Office and being forced to listen to old people talk about the most recent medical procedures performed, the majority of the population still considers certain information to be “private”, if not a family’s “secret”.

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 the essential elements of one’s positional duties at the Federal or Postal job, worries over maintaining the privacy of one’s medical file always remains a concern of inextricable engagement.  Human beings being who they are, the chance that the most private of medical information must be, or will be, disseminated beyond the periphery of a “need to know” criteria, is greater than any normative constraints will guarantee.

In the end, the best approach is to simply do the best that one can in trying to limit exposure and revelation of that most private of information; but when the Federal Disability Retirement packet reaches the Agency’s Human Resource Office, en route to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the concerns of privacy will always follow where the parody which excites may not be able to fully be prevented.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire