Federal Disability Retirement: Vows and Contracts

People take vows for various reasons: vows of silence, as a satisfaction of a prerequisite for initiation into a religious order; vows of marriage, for the union intended for a lifetime of commitment and self-sacrifice; vows of revenge, for a personal vendetta in retribution for actions suffered against one’s self or on behalf of another; and similar vows of unremitting focus until the satisfaction of such enduring commitment is accomplished.  Similarly, contracts are entered into each day, across the globe, between individuals, corporate entities and groups formed specifically for business and personal reasons.

Is there a difference between a “vow” and a “contract“?  On a superficial level, the former is viewed as a “higher order” semblance of the latter.  In a deeper sense, that is not only true, but all the more so — or, in erudite form, a fortiori.  For, to vow is to give of one’s self in totality of being; it is a gift of one’s self, often without any expectation of a similar receiving.

In contract law, of course, it is precisely the comparative analysis of a “consideration” provided and received, which determines the viability and sustainability of the agreement itself.  Far too often, Federal and Postal employees see their commitment to an agency or the U.S. Postal Service as a “vow” in employment, as opposed to a contract freely entered into, and just as freely abrogated when the need arises. This is seen when a Federal or Postal employee suffers from a medical condition and must consider the need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS.

The Federal or Postal employee treats the job as one of a “vow”, as if the significance of clinging on to the position is of greater importance than the detriment manifested to one’s health.  Federal Disability Retirement benefits, offered to all Federal and Postal employees under FERS or CSRS, is merely a contractual annuity accorded based upon the status of the individual as a Federal or Postal employee, and further proven by a preponderance of the evidence.  No vows have been exchanged — neither of the silent type, implicit, nor explicit, and certainly not of an unequivocal or unremitting nature.

Contractual terms are meant to be asserted; and one of the provisions of the “contract” for all Federal and Postal employees, is that when the Federal or Postal employee suffers 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, then eligibility for Federal Disability benefits may be invoked.

To accept a contractual provision is never to take advantage of anything, unfairly or otherwise; rather, it is merely a satisfaction of terms. To do otherwise, and to confuse X as Y, as in mistaking a contract for a vow, is merely to bathe in a puddle of muddle-headed thinking.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: The Loyal Mascot

Mascots are loyal by definition.  As they symbolize the team, organization, group or particular population as a representative spokesperson, any conduct of disloyalty would be considered anathema to the entity.  The converse concept, of course, is rarely investigated, but should also “by definition” be true: the organization or entity should remain loyal to the mascot through whom the representative reputation is upheld.  However, when the symbol of the mascot no longer serves the purposes of the entity, the appearance may be altered; a wholesale exchange for another symbol may be entertained; or perhaps the very need for the mascot may be scrapped.

For the Federal or Postal Worker who has sacrificed a good part of his or her life to the advancement of “the mission” of the agency, the feeling of being a mascot is often an effervescent quality.  Missions and causes are meant to be motivational focal points; a foundational rationale greater than one’s own lifetime of incrementally monotonous trivialities will provide a sense of purpose and destiny.

Such effervescence of feelings, however, can suddenly end, when an intersection of one’s destiny is interrupted by a medical condition.  For, it is precisely the harshness of a medical condition which suddenly awakens the soul, and contrasts those things once thought to be important, against the being-ness of mortality.  For Federal and Postal Workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition suddenly impedes the Federal or Postal Worker’s ability and capacity to further “the mission” of the agency, contemplation in 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 remain a viable option.

It is unfortunately a time when being the mascot for the agency may need to end.  The failure of effectiveness may result in the agency taking steps to terminate “the mascot”; but before that occurs, it may be better to take hold of the reigns of destiny, and begin the process of securing one’s future without regard to what the agency may or may not do.  Loyalty is supposed to be a bilateral venue of concerns, but is almost always to the benefit of the larger organization at the expense of the individual.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits allows for the Federal or Postal Worker to consider the future and to leave the days of symbolism behind.  As medical conditions awaken the prioritization of life’s elements, so filing for Federal Disability Retirement is often the first step in recognizing that the days of the mascot may be over, and to come out from behind the symbolism to step into the fresh air of life.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: Until Sickness, Death or Getting Fat

It was once that marriage vows were viewed as sacrosanct; inviolable promises made, endured through hardship, bilaterally seen as a partnership made in heaven.

Then, of course, “no fault” divorces became the fashion; fashion itself (or lack thereof) was a grounds for de-coupling or un-coupling (it is difficult to keep up with the modern vernacular and introduction of new-age language); and so people began to “drift apart” and expunge from such eternal vows undesirable concepts such as “death” or “sickness” (for, as marriage ceremonies are supposed to be “happy” occasions, why insert such negative vibes into the mix?), but implicitly left in the ultimate ground and justification: getting fat (or old, or ugly).

A parallel approach is often taken in the employment arena: your loyalty is expected, but if you fail to produce, you can be terminated.  Whether such pervasive attitudes become commonplace because of the “throw-away” nature of goods purchased and items sold in the universe of commerce, is for social anthropologists to debate; the fact is, the issue can be viewed from both sides: from the employer’s perspective, too many employees jump ship soon after being trained and invested, seeking other opportunities and offers.

But that leaves us in the state of our being and choosing: both in family life and in careers, the fickle and unsteady nature of either reflects the very society in which we participate.

Businesses are rarely run like families — or, perhaps a truer statement these days is that, yes, they are run exactly like families, and quick divorces for the most spurious of reasons are sought and attained.  For the Federal and Postal Worker who finds him/herself with a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, there is a price to pay for being a part of such a fickle system.

Federal employment is merely a microcosm of the greater system of employment encompassing Federal, State and private-sector economies; loyalty is no more precious in one sector than another.

From the Federal or Postal employee’s perspective, Federal Disability Retirement benefits must be an option which should be considered when a medical condition begins to impact one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job.  From the Federal agency’s perspective, Federal Disability Retirement should be viewed as part of the larger promise of Federal employment benefits contractually offered, and when one partakes of accessing the promise, there should not be any grumbling, complaining, or retribution and retaliatory measures invoked.

But somehow, reality rarely follows the path of rationality.  As such, just as in messy divorces and other venues of uncoupling, one should always be cautious in whom to confide in, what to say, and when to reveal.  Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit accorded to all Federal and Postal employees, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, and is sought and obtained through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

While not as sacrosanct as marriage vows of yore, it is also not as fickle or easy to get because one has gained a little weight over the years. As such, any such attempt to file for OPM Disability Retirement benefits should be taken seriously and with deliberate care; sort of like what one should do before heading off to Las Vegas for a quick coupling, or uncoupling, whichever the case may be.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Escaping the Feudal Paradigm

Anachronisms rarely die a sudden death; instead, they fade over time, with vestiges and residual skeletons of facades and structures remaining stubbornly in place for decades, and sometimes centuries.  The system of vassals paying homage and fealty to those who are anointed and favored, has been a longstanding feudal system ensuring loyalty and fidelity to particular fiefdoms and individuals; for, as the consecrated individuals are provided with special privileges, including use of prime land, serfs and servants, so the unwavering allegiance to a lord is established in bonds of sequestered servitude.

Federal and Postal Workers are intimately familiar with this feudal system of fealty; they witness it in qualitative and quantitative instances throughout agencies, departments and post offices.

The rules of servitude closely parallel the bonds of loyalty; the consecrated and anointed are allowed the use of royal carriages, even, and minor violations of protocol are overlooked for those whose favor has been curried and fostered, while a technical infraction by he who stands outside of the legion of sycophants faces a deluge of sanctions, including warnings, reprimands, suspensions and the ultimate hanging by the hooded element: termination.  But as all Federal and Postal employees know and understand, loyalty is a unilateral function; it is never bilateral. One’s relevance extends only so far as usefulness to the anointed one; and once such usefulness is extinguished, so one’s relevance diminishes.

There is no debate between substance and appearance in a philosophical sense; appearance always wins out. And, of course, as empathy for the human condition can find no room in the evolutionary process of survivability, so the vestiges of a feudal system of fealty exists well beyond its existential relevance or functional import.  For the Federal or Postal employee who begins to suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the problem of usefulness, loss of position and status as “one of the anointed” (if one ever even enjoyed that level of stature), and relevance to one’s agency or department, becomes a pragmatic problem of stark existential reality.

Fortunately, the gods of caring provided for a more modern, non-feudal mechanism to escape the brutal residue of the feudal system, by allowing for the administrative option of Federal Disability Retirement benefits, filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS.  It allows one to sever the tentacles which place a stranglehold upon Federal and Postal employees who are mistreated for circumstances beyond one’s control.

Yes, it is true that vestiges of old systems fade slowly; but in the end, the inexorable march of progress will hopefully win out, and for the Federal or Postal employee who needs to escape the lords of fate, Federal Disability Retirement is an option to consider.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: House of Cards

The proverbial metaphor referring to the House of Cards is well-known to most: it symbolizes the fragile nature of that which we so carefully construct and devise; the time, effort and sensitive touch needed, sometimes holding one’s breath lest a puff of passing turbulence should undo the work of uncommon concentration. But who among us applies the same levity of construction upon the actual foundation we build in real life?

It is clear that the fragile nature of careers, built upon years of relationships, garnering loyalties and cultivating awards, performance reviews, meaningless pats on the back, and encouragement meted out ever so sparsely. How little we require in payment for our unswerving loyalty and fealty to an uncaring entity, but for commendations constituted by cardboard casts?

For Federal and Postal employees, the House of Cards if often finally recognized when a medical condition begins to impact one’s ability/inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job. Loyalties are suddenly and conveniently forgotten; past awards become irrelevancies brushed aside like memories shuffled in the mind of an amnesiac; and those glory days of quick smiles and congratulatory looks of adulation are replaced with grimaces and furtive looks accompanied by hushed whispers of sneering conspiracies; and so one is suddenly thrown under or overboard — another proverbial metaphor — the bus or the boat.

Federal isability Retirement is a benefit which is a “safety net” in the sense that it pushes back against the fickle ways of agencies and departments; it is a safeguard against the world of short-term memory banks held by faceless entities. Filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, it allows for the Federal and Postal Worker to exit the Federal workforce with dignity, and a certain semblance of security, and thereby leaving behind the leaning House of Cards for residency by those more able to continue to hold up that which faces the inevitability of chaotic destruction.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: Decorative Bookends

Such a niche industry, whether by individual craftsmen or in factory output, must have recognized years ago that trouble lay ahead.  For, with the transfer of the reading public (which in itself is shrinking daily) from paper to electronic medium in the form of ebooks, the need for such anachronisms has diminished and is on its way to extinction.

Such objects were never at the forefront of civilization’s advancement or representative of its superior culture. Unlike the Model-T, military arsenals and the advent of tabletop computers, one cannot point to them and say, “Now that was the beginning of the industrial age, the technological age, the age of modern warfare“, etc.  Instead, bookends were purchased and displayed for a quiet, unassuming, utilitarian purpose: to help books remaining standing.  One rarely went into a store and bought only a single bookend; they come in pairs, and when one of the pairs is lost or damaged, then both became less of value in terms of everyday utility.

In going through basic training in the military, a similar concept was hammered: of pairing soldiers together and working in tandem to advance towards an enemy position.  Marriage is sort of like that; the cooperation, not the warfare (although some would point more to the latter than the former as representing the institution).  And so the statistical sales of bookends has been steadily declining.

Often, for Federal and Postal employees who come to a critical point of needing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the metaphorical association to the uselessness of bookends in modernity is obvious: the agency no longer supports the Federal or Postal Worker, neither in words nor in deed, and one can easily forecast the future value of one’s continuing presence. With the loss of such support, one feels like the singular bookend.

When that loss of agency support occurs, it is time for the Federal and Postal Worker to consider that option which exists precisely for that moment: to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.  Work is important, but health so much more. When the bookend of the agency is lost or damaged, then one is looking at holding up one side of the spectrum.

Oh, and that metaphorical concept of the “buddy” system, taught in tactical military training? Like the singular bookend which can only hold up the rear, that’s precisely what the Federal or Postal Worker must look out for when once a medical condition is revealed to an uncaring Federal Agency or Postal Service.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire