OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: To Whom Do We Owe Our Allegiance?

Whether allegiances are formed by a natural predisposition to an innate need to “belong”; or, as human beings are essentially social animals with a historical essence embracing a herd-mentality, it is a natural component within the personality, characteristic, and in-born psyche of our society that we crave a macro-personality above and beyond the micro-being of our individualism.

We give our allegiances freely, without thought, and with nary a price to be paid.  It happens naturally, within the context of our personal lives, our families, friendships, and in the employment arena.  One enters into a position, and before one is even aware of the potential consequences and pitfalls, you are deemed to be part of “that group”, under the mentorship of X, or suspected of surrendering your fealty to a particular management.

For Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS or CSRS, such unthinking loyalty occurs almost immediately upon entering the Federal sector and workforce.  But one quickly learns that such mindless fealty is a unilateral embracing of an age-old puzzle: of what benefit does one accrue, and how strong is the fealty when tested?

The Federal and Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, quickly finds that “loyalty” to the organization is a unilateral concept, and never bilateral, where the agency owes anything back to the individual Federal or Postal employee.

That is when one begins to ask the question:  To whom, and for what, do I owe such unwavering loyalty?  It is only when this question is asked, that the Federal or Postal employee begins to look out for his or her own best interests.  Federal Disability Retirement benefits are available for those who find that the loyalty once relied upon is merely an empty chasm of broken promises and returned emotional items of defective goods; and the herd which once appeared to protect, is acting suspiciously like a predator in waiting.

For the Federal or Postal Worker, whether under FERS or CSRS, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is not a violation of one’s fealty to the agency; such blind loyalty, one must understand, never existed, except in the creative mind of a bureaucracy which dresses in wolf’s clothing in order to lure one into the trap of self-immolation.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: The Law & Life’s Pragmatic Reality

In a Federal Disability Retirement case, one of the ways to establish the nexus between one’s medical condition and the inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, is to show a “service deficiency”. But as most Federal and Postal employees systematically receive satisfactory or higher ratings of workplace appraisals, and are passed through without thought in order for managers and supervisors to avoid contentiousness and adversarial encounters with their employees, it is rare that anyone can show poor performance and tie such a service deficiency to one’s medical condition.

Does one need to go to the supervisor and point out the service deficiencies and ask that the supervisor rate him or her as sub-par?  No.

Does one have to grieve or contest a superior appraisal?  Again, the answer is, No.

The intersecting contradiction between law and life often manifests itself in such circular absurdities.  But how the law is read; the knowledge of a myopic understanding of the law without the greater context of the entirety of the evolution of case-law opinions and further expansive interpretation of the originating statute, can leave one to believe that the law makes no sense, and fails to reflect the pragmatic issues of reality.

Hint:  Most Federal and Postal employees do not have a service deficiency; but since Federal Disability Retirement rules, regulations and statutes require that one’s medical condition must last for a minimum of 12 months, does that mean that one must show a devastation of one’s work ethic for a full year before you can even file?  No.

The conflict between law and the pragmatic reality of life is merely an apparent one; once the truth is unraveled, there really is no conflict at all, internal, apparent, or otherwise, and Medical Retirement applications submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, in fact reflects the reality of life quite well.  One needs to merely figure out and think away any such apparent self-contradiction.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Correlation, Correspondence & Causation

How we assert and connect disparate facts reveals the extent of one’s understanding of the conceptual distinctions to be made between correlation, correspondence and causation.

Correlation, in its normative usage, refers to the relationship between two or more things, and will often involve statistical dependence between entities.

Correspondence, on the other hand, will entail the agreement of one or more things with one another, or encapsulate similarities and reflective agreement.  Thus, one may discuss Russell’s and Moore’s “correspondence theory of truth“, for instance, where the proposed argument would involve the “agreement” between what one says, and its reflection upon the objective world which it is attempting to describe.

Causality, as a distinctive concept from the other two Cs, involves the sequential occurrence of one event followed by another, where the second event is accepted as a consequence of the first.

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 the conceptual distinctions between these words, precisely because the Federal and Postal employee formulating the nexus between one’s medical condition and one’s position description must show the relationship between the two.

Thus, one may argue that a correlation exists between poor performance and one’s medical condition; or one may establish that the corresponding actions on the part of the agency involved references to medical reports and records; or that the position itself caused the exacerbation of the medical condition — although, the latter may be more relevant in a Federal Worker’s Comp case.

In arguing for eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, use of all of the linguistic tools available will provide a decided advantage; but usage must be preceded by understanding, and understanding must involve the careful analysis of the specialized application of conceptual constructs.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Only Real Standard

In legal parlance, there are various and multitudinous “standards” — of proof; of evidence; of law, etc.  Some have higher, more stringent requirements; others are considered fairly de minimis, and can be satisfied with sufficiently targeted evidence.  All, however, share a common thread — that of persuading the trier of facts.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the standard of proof to be applied is one of “preponderance of the evidence”, which is considered a fairly low standard.  However, the only real standard of proof in any case — whether in administrative law, such as Federal Disability Retirement, or in civil litigation, criminal court, etc. — is one of pragmatic reality:  whoever hears the case, it is necessary to persuade the decision-maker.

Obviously, there is a distinction between an onerous standard, such as “beyond a reasonable doubt”, in comparison with a lower standard of proof such as “preponderance of the evidence”.  Whether, if and when, one has met a standard of proof, is not based upon a scientific calculus, and indeed, that is precisely why in closing arguments, an attorney will repeatedly argue that one has met the X-standard of proof, and these Y-reasons are why.

Theoretically, persuasive argumentation is not necessary if the facts themselves prove the argument.  In reality, however, it is the argument which brings the facts together into a coherent whole, and presents them to the viewer within a context and a specific perspective, such that the viewer or recipient of such information and facts can make a logical connection between a disparate conglomeration of facts, and reaches a conclusion that yes, the purpose for providing such facts has met its goal, etc. The key is to argue without seeming to argue.

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 this point of pragmatism:  One can get lost in the morass of legal parlance, and worry excessively about meeting the legal requirements; in the end, it all comes down to presenting an effective, persuasive Federal Disability Retirement packet, such that one receives a letter of approval from the Office of Personnel Management.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Theoretical, Practical and Mechanical Realms

Just as Aristotle identified the conceptual distinction between two kinds of wisdom — theoretical and practical — so such a distinction, along with a third (mechanical), resulting and consequential end to the administrative process, exists in the procedures identified as “Federal Disability Retirement“.  

The theoretical parallels the “preparation” portion of the process — of coming to terms mentally and emotionally with the necessity of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, as a result of accepting that a medical condition is impacting one’s ability/inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.  Next, the Federal or Postal worker who is either under FERS or CSRS must apply that theoretical knowledge in a practical sense, by formulating the proper approach, by compiling the aggregate of medical evidence, describing a sufficient nexus between one’s medical conditions and the positional requirements of one’s job, etc.; and, finally, there is the “mechanical” portion of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with the Office of Personnel Management — the actual filing of the application, as well as the completion of the necessary forms.  

Such conceptual distinctions and identification of different realms of necessary requirements which must be met, are helpful in taking a logical, sequential approach in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, if only to bifurcate in one’s own mind the realms which must be contemplated, applied and completed, before proceeding to the next step.  Above and beyond the three conceptual realms of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under either FERS or CSRS, of course, is the overarching need for good counsel and effective advice.

Ultimately, practical application of a theoretical construct must begin with the wisdom to know that which is sufficient, applicable and effective; and while information is helpful, knowledge is the key to meeting the burden of proof, of showing that one’s Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS meets the “preponderance of the evidence” standard of review.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Imperfect Law

Law is an imperfect science; indeed, one could dispute the ascribing of law as a “science” at all, except in a generic, loose sense of the word.  Like the sciences, it is an observation and gathering of empirical evidence (“just the facts, please’); like science, it is an application of a hypothesis (proposing an applicable theory of law upon the gathered facts); and like science, the results of applying the hypothetical model upon the empirical evidence must take into account the factors of error, the possibilities of various elements which may impact upon a perfect study (i.e., the personalities and quirks of a jury or a judge, for example).   But that is where the resemblance between science and law end. 

More often than not, the practice of law is nothing more than what Hume’s famous argument concerning causality entails:  repetitive observation of an event does not necessarily result in the same effect the next time around; it is merely experience which guides the observer to predictably conclude certain end-results.  To that extent, administrative law, and specifically Federal Disability Retirement law for Federal employees under FERS or CSRS is no different.  Law, as engaged in actively by an attorney of law, is the acute observation of the facts, the application of the proper hypothetical model, and the combining of both — with the exception of taking into account one’s experience, the experience of past cases, and making discretionary decisions based upon all of the facts and circumstances.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire