OPM Disability Retirement: Imperceptible light shifts

They are almost imperceptible; in any event, we would not otherwise notice them but for the altered hue in morning’s glory of pink shades and yellow gleams of delight.  From one angle and perspective, one might miss the subtlety of a purple shade not otherwise naturally given to observation; from another, a shift, quite impossible to grasp and declare, but there nevertheless, and that is precisely what occurs with the imperceptible light shifts we miss in the daily lives of busy modernity that destroys and in incremental deterioration withdraws from grace.

But that we had the time, or made the way, for viewing and studying the changes of a world’s color; but we act as though we are colorblind, and rush through each day without noticing the alterations of the sensory universe we occupy.

Nature itself is a deceiver of sorts; from the sun’s rise to its apex of brilliance to the fall into twilight behind the arc of earth’s perimeter, we are unable to view the brightness directly, lest we blind ourselves in such a foolish attempt, or otherwise try and comprehend such source of solar energy in a figurative sense like the Cave Analogy in Plato’s Republic, of that chained soul who lives only within the shadows of appearances not reflective of reality.

No, it is the inability to feel the rotation of the ground beneath us that first welcomes the rising sun, then imperceptibly travels the distance to give us the gift of light, only to incrementally and with deliberative direction progress towards the pathway of twilight’s descent that allows for event a glint of the nether world.

Imperceptible light shifts may be seen in the refractive beauty upon a crystal’s gleam, or upon a clearing in a forest after a burst of rain; but it is in life generally that we must keep an eye out for the beauty of change, in order to be in consonance with a universe that is divorced from our instinctive sensibilities as the animals we once were in roaming the earth like the American Indian who followed the migration of the buffalo herd.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are impeded in life by 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 position occupied, those life-startling but imperceptible light shifts are like the subtle hints of the body’s agony:  They tell us things that we already know, but are too stubborn to see.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is never an easy perspective of a long and arduous road to take; but like those imperceptible light shifts, it is the gleam of a future’s hope that must pave the way in prompting that which is necessary, as opposed to what we merely desire out of life.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement Benefits: Linguistic Machismo

The term is derived from Spanish origins, and it is that characteristic which contributed most to the rise of Hemingway’s fame, and his ultimate act of self-destruction.  Of bullfights, big-game hunting, reporting amidst the Spanish Civil War, leaving unmentioned his encounter with death and devastation from his experiences in World War I, resulting in the Phoenix rising through his unforgettable fictional characters, Howard Krebs and Nick Adams, whose souls have been damaged beneath the surface of any physical manifestation of wounds or injuries, where reconnection with society, its rhythms of daily living and silliness of interests, can no longer be possible — these comprise the defining events of the meaning of the word itself.

Combined with the compounding prefix, it delineates the approach of modernity in engaging in communitarian communications.  You know — of bombast and lambaste; where subtlety of meaning is left without room for doubt, connotation, denotation or a question mark, but merely a hyphenated sense of an unstated thud followed by an exclamation point.

The famous debaters have now faded into the antiquity of forgotten dustbins; Lincoln-Douglas; Buckley-Vidal; the courteous but inquisitive Dick Cavett show; and the late-night show of Johnny Carson, whom many consider to encompass both intelligence and complexity of thought, especially when compared to parallelisms truncated by modernity.  Civility is gone; subtlety as an art form is all but lost; the only teleology of choice these days focuses upon the viral nature of a YouTube video, and only if it trumpets the extreme with the blare of sensationalism.

This approach — of linguistic machismo — has crept into the narrative of today.  Leaving aside the repugnance of the term for feminist causes, the substance of the concept implies an aggressive tone in setting forth a narrative.  The problem with engaging in such a consistency of intolerance in conveying as a vehicle of communication the toughness of a “no-holds barred” language game, however, is that it soon and quickly loses its efficacy.

Even an elephant struck repetitively to move the lumbering animal will develop callouses which defy the oncoming blows of future pain; encouragement by blunt force trauma is a discouraging device over time, if used without discretion.  Incessant screams become deafening to ears sensitized; physical pain becomes numb to repetition; repetition itself creates a havoc of unnoticed constructs; and so it goes.

This can be a lesson to Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are attempting to construct an effective narrative in preparing one’s Statement of Disability for submission of a Federal Disability Retirement application.

When the Federal or Postal applicant for Disability Retirement purposes envisions who will be reading, reviewing and analyzing one’s Statement of Disability (as posited on SF 3112A), it is well noting that the Administrative Specialist who will be making a decision at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, will have hundreds of cases to get to; and from that caricature of a singular soul peeking out from a mountain of files, the subtlety of a whispering voice immersed in truth, objectivity, and persuasive force of argumentation quietly encapsulated by law and proper documentation, will be the light which shines from the darkness of ineptitude, where even the emotionally-damaged, fictional heroes of Hemingway’s short stories may shed a tear now and again.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Medical Separation & Retirement: Of self-expression in society

There exists a proportionate correlation if charted on a graph, between the rise of a need for greater self-expression and the alienation from the individual from a sense of belonging and community.  The human animal has an inner need for acceptance and comity within the context of societal cohesion, and this is no different from other species and their behavioral patterns, excepting the “lone wolf” characteristics where mating or predatory consummation represents the only points of contact.

The lines of the hypothetical graph would intersect somewhere at the level where the individual believes that personal identity has been lost and subsumed from a community detached and uncaring; notice, identity and self-worth are bundled together in an almost inextricable complexity within the human psyche, and that proverbial and pervasive “inner cry for help” becomes exponentially magnified when that alienation intensifies.

Focus upon a collective “self” by a society encumbered with economic woes, infringement upon base survival instincts, and a growing sense that reliance upon one another is no longer believable, leads to the downward spiral of the line which represents societal comity, where the trajectory suddenly drops precipitously in a straight, vertical manner.

Yet, the other line — the one which represents self-expression and a silenced cry for urgency of warmth and responsiveness, continues upward in a more gradual trend, with short and sudden spikes here and there, but still reflective of a desire to pull back, to harken with a perspective of the rear-view mirror, wanting and willing always to open one’s arms and embrace the roots of that tribal nature from whence we all originated.

But we are becoming more and more calloused; the time wasted, the ascending alienation as first reported by Camus and the French existentialists after the ashes of the Phoenix failed to rise from the funeral pyre of the war-torn devastation of Europe and the consequential bifurcation of nations within the greater context of a potential addendum holocaust involving nuclear weapons, and the subsequent inertia developed through wealth and artificial products which were marketed by means of media and mass distribution — from it all, discontent arose, the notion of life’s absurdity followed, and the greater need for self-expression formed.

Look at Facebook and the explosion of psychosis.  Look at the obsession with smart phones and the need to “update” one’s “profile”.  But always remember that self-expression must be contained, and appropriately conveyed.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must, by necessity, file 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, the vehicle of formulation in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to OPM, must have a certain restraint and self-limitation imposed.

Not every fact and fancy of opinion should be included in the Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

And, one must ask, how much of that self-expression exudes bravado and exaggeration?  And even after one has won one’s Federal Disability Retirement application, there may be a Medical Questionnaire which is issued by OPM, and if in the course of investigating further, there surfaces an indicia of some extreme form of activity such as bungee-jumping or similarly strenuous engagements which are “posted” for all viewers because of the need for “self-expression” — such a wanton cry for help may indeed come back to haunt.

Self-expression in a society replete with alienation and abandonment may, in the end, be all that we are left with; but for the Federal or Postal employee who wants to preserve and protect one’s Federal Disability Retirement annuity, it may be best to exert some semblance of self-control that is quickly diminishing and disappearing on the graph of the proverbial downward spiral.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Medical Retirement from Federal Service: Profiles in Discourage

It is, of course, an obvious play off of the 1957 Pulitzer Prize winning work (publication date of 1955), describing 8 U.S. Senators who displayed courage in the face of criticism (an inherent oxymoron?).  Whether or not, and to what extent, Kennedy himself wrote the work (Ted Sorenson, John F.’s speechwriter, finally conceded in his 2008 autobiography as much) has become historically irrelevant, for the legend has become the man, and has replaced the truth of clear lines that once constituted the demarcation between fantasy and reality.

Ancient references to “Camelot” and metaphors about some obscure “torch” being passed through a generational transfer of linguistic fluff, have all cumulatively obscured the stark nakedness of that which makes people and events accountable.  The irony of real life always goes well beyond any fictional attempt to deceive; at least, by designation ascribed, we know what to expect of the latter; but then, there wouldn’t be anything like irony without the absurdity of the former.

Look at the recent allegations of the murky money-trail from Malaysia as the source of funding for the movie, “The Wolf of Wall Street”; how much more deliciously ironic can it get, where a movie depicting blatant corruption is paid for by the very manner in which the moguls of Hollywood are allegedly attempting to make a point about?  What prompted the short-cutting which undermines the title of the work credited to the 35th President?  Is it merely the old adage that the “ends justify the means” — and that not writing a work but claiming its authorship is allowable because the greater good of fame and the road to the presidency will account for such deception?

It is, in the end, the title itself which makes for the irony; for, in a work which describes the integrity and character traits of the subjects within, it is precisely the lack of such which presumes a contradiction without.  And that is the connection with Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers of today — for the entities which employ them represent the “official” face of this country, and yet the way they treat Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers when Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents him or her from performing all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, reflects upon a discernible and palpable profile in discouragement (the suffix is added to make the sentence grammatically correct, although poetic license has been taken in the caption of this blog with the title, “Profiles in Discourage” in order to remain consistent with its alter-ego of the work by JFK and Sorenson).

One could argue, of course, that because there is the statutory right of all Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers to file 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, therefore any maltreatment or mistreatment of a Federal or Postal worker based upon the medical condition becomes a moot issue.

But that is precisely the point — treatment of the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker in the process of engaging the long and arduous bureaucratic process of filing an OPM Disability Retirement application, should reflect an integrity of cover-to-content.  For, in the end, it is not the cover, nor the first impression which matters, but like the historical characters which are insightfully described in the book itself, the title should always match its claimed authorship.  But, then, of course, we would be left without the delicious irony of man’s daily folly.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Medical Separation & Retirement from Federal Employment: Existence preceding essence

Once, in the vaunted Age of Reason, when Western Philosophy reached its pinnacle as the conduit of all knowledge, wisdom and human achievement; and when other disciplines fell under the umbrella and aegis of the methodological sanctity of its pursuit; then, it was determined that time was merely a linear ladder to climb, and all knowledge would be captured like the essence of heightened fragrances in a bottle of perfume, ever sweet smelling and able to conceal the undercurrent of stench.  But then came disenchantment, pestilence, wars and human cruelty — just the regularity in the rhythm of man; you know, those things that are inevitable.

It was thought that the “philosophical approach” begun by Plato and Aristotle would garner the collective wisdom necessary to construct the artifice of a just society.  What we forgot, however, is that “man is man”, and can predictably be counted upon to do those things he has always done:  take advantage; say things he didn’t mean; engage in the cruelest of activities, but describe it as that which is not; and as despotism and totalitarianism grew exponentially in ever efficient machines of death, the culmination of the ashes of human essence resulted in World War II, the death camps and the mass extermination of targeted populations.

The search for the essence of man and other entities effectively ceased, because — while the human species was recognized to have certain tendencies — it became clear that he “made it up as he went along”.  Thus, the thinking went, why not just admit it, submit to it, no longer resist it, and let it just “all hang out”.  Modernity is the just reward for the abandonment of reason; beware of what you ask for, as it may well be gotten.  And so the popularized banner of Existentialism was born — from the ashes rose the proverbial Phoenix, and no longer did we strive to attain the “essence” of human quality, but submitted to the idea that we first come to exist, and each day create our own essence.

Thus the popularized version:  Existence preceding essence.  And we see the evidence of such truth all around us.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer the brunt of daily turmoil because of a medical condition, such that the medical condition no longer allows him or her to perform all of the essential (there is the form of that word again) elements of the Federal or Postal positional duties, the idea that human cruelty and consequential suffering is a normative standard, is really nothing new under the sun.

Meursault, in Camus’ major work, The Stranger, also saw the disconnect between man’s claim to compassion and humanity, and the actual state of being.

Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition and who find that the Federal Agency or U.S. Postal Service will fail them in every way, including the artificial attempts at “accommodation”, need to file 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.  For, there is ultimately life beyond the Federal Agency and the U.S. Postal Service — and one in which you may actually be able to create a “new essence” of yourself, beyond the mere existence presently lived in within the bureaucratic morass of your Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Employment Medical Separation & Retirement: Putting forth an air of pretension

Why is it that changing one’s vernacular accent is considered pretentious?  What if people, on a daily basis, came into the office and assumed a different dialect — the Northerner with a sudden affectation of a Southern drawl; a Midwesterner assuming the melody of the Irish; or the New Englander presuming upon a Jamaican tango; and the next day, in random turns, everyone played musical chairs with the spoken word and its vehicle of communication — why would we be critical of such a display of linguistic malleability?  The phonetics of pretension remain predictably unacceptable; somehow, we know that a certain “putting on” of an accent is either bad or less than genuine.

Take the hypothetical one step further:  Say that the world went mad (this part of it is hardly difficult to fathom) and everyone around went about taking on a different accent, and there was one particularly annoying person (you pick the gender) who everyone thought was being overly “pretentious” by speaking in a melodious gaelic accent.  “Oh, he thinks he is so good at it!”  “She sounds so fake and insincere!”  But let’s take it a step further:  Assume that everyone agreed that the person was so terrible that we all demanded that he/she cease the phonetic banality, until it turns out that she is actually a native of Galloway from southern Scotland, and that the alleged pretension was truly genuine.  Would the accent still be a “bad” accent?  Is there such a thing as a bad but genuine accent, or does the “badness” inure to the pretension of insincerity?

Now, take the Federal or Postal worker who has a medical condition or is injured, and comes into the office or the facility daily, and hides — as best he or she can — the medical condition, but suffers by way of less productivity and inability to fulfill all of the essential elements of the position; is that Federal or Postal employee being “pretentious”?  And when the Supervisor or Manager of the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service discovers the medical condition and begins the inevitable campaign of harassment, intimidation and PIP preparations, do the others come to his or her defense, or scurry away like rats on a sinking ship?

Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, of course, have the option of 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.  In the end, there is never a “bad accent” when the origin of phonetic uniqueness is genuine and sincere; just as it is never a negative reflection upon a Federal or Postal employee who files for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM when there is a medical condition which prevents the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties.

Both are valid and viable “life” choices that must be considered.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire