Federal Disability Retirement: Options

Often, in life, we believe that others walk around with esoteric knowledge unavailable and unreleased; it is considered from the viewpoint of what is, in philosophy, identified as an “epistemological privilege” — that as others have private thoughts which are inaccessible to us, so there must be a vast array of knowledge similarly situated.

Experience teaches us to become suspicious of others, as somehow the inner workings of power and wealth tend to bypass most of us, and the list of uninvited guests to cocktail parties reserved exclusively for the select few parallel a privileged club of partisan divides.  But the truism of life’s encounters also unleashes another candid tautology:  most things are quite self-evident, and Ockham’s razor is the general principle of prevailing determinism.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are puzzled, dismayed, confused and confined by a lack of awareness concerning one’s options when a medical condition begins to impact one’s ability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, information gathering should always be the first step in the process.

Perhaps conundrums will still arise, or confusion may develop resulting from a compounding aggregate of “too much” information “out there”.  Further investigation may be warranted; but in the end, most Federal and Postal employees realize that the options are limited, and the choices relatively uncomplicated.

Federal Disability Retirement remains a preferred option for many, filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, over OWCP-based claims (because Worker’s Comp is not a retirement system, ultimately); beyond staying with the job (because it will normally turn out that doing nothing will only make the situation worse, in most instances); or expecting an accommodation or reassignment (not likely to happen, as agencies and the U.S. Postal Service rarely look out for the best interests of the Federal or Postal worker first).

In the end, options depend upon knowledge; for, as the corner ice cream shop of yesteryear had but two flavors, vanilla and chocolate, so the modern-day chain sensation may tout 50 or more; but we tend to always come back to the basics, where we find that multiplicity of additives does not make for real alternatives in life.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management: A Choice of One

A choice of one is not a choice at all, except in comparative contrast to the state of affairs one is left with. In life, however, that is often the only viable option offered: Either to remain in an unchanged state of being, or to adopt another set of circumstances which may offer only a limited attraction of availability.

But in choosing the alternative option in comparison to one’s present state of affairs, the evaluative process should not be frozen in present-time analysis; rather, if the given option allows for greater future promise and flexibility, as opposed to the current situation which may retain little to no hope for the future, then the qualitative attractiveness of the “other” may be of exponentially greater value.

One must always take care that one is comparing the valuation of items within a set of choices in terms of qualitative comparability; thus, the old adage and admonition of “comparing apples to apples, and not to oranges”, applies both in terms of substance, as well as future potentialities.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the “choice of one” is often what one must confront. For, not filing for Federal Disability Retirement will ultimately lead to separation and administrative termination. Or, one may simply resign from one’s Federal or Postal job, and walk away with nothing. Neither of the two previously-stated “options” are viable or rationally sound ones.

Thus, for the Federal and Postal employee who is suffering from a medical condition which impacts one’s ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management becomes the “choice of one”. But it can still be considered a viable and fruitful choice, precisely because it accords a relative state of stability for one’s financial future, and further, it allows for the Federal and Postal employee to seek other employment in the private sector, and make up to 80% of what one’s former Federal or Postal position currently pays, and still retain the Federal Disability Retirement annuity.

Not all options offered are equal. An ice-cream stand which offers only one flavor makes a limited presentation of attraction; but if the inner core of the singular flavor contains a mystery of hidden bursts of multiple sensory explosions which enhance the salivary delights of the customer, then you suddenly have a greater choice than merely a choice of one.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Asymmetrical Lives

Asymmetrical systems are an important principle which dominates organisms and prevails in the world around us.  Symmetry involves balance and parallelism; a defiance through a counter-symmetrical eruption is normally an anomaly and deviation — a mutation in organic evolution which often results in extinction precisely because it is unnatural.

Humans live according to symmetrical principles.  Symmetry can involve a linear conceptual perspective; of a balance where childhood and youth is represented by X; young adulthood by Y; middle age with Z; and old age in retirement and calm.  But such a perception of linear quietude defies and ignores the realities of life’s disruptions.  Unexpected calamities, such as a car swerving into one’s path on any given day; being fired from a job because of an unforeseen reorganization at the management level; being inflicted with a medical condition such that the medical condition impact’s one’s ability to perform one’s chosen vocation; these are events which violate and infringe upon the linear symmetry we expect in our lives.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who suddenly finds that a medical condition is no longer allowing him or her to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, the asymmetrical condition is in contrast to others who are healthy, as well as to the expected path of one’s own career.  But in the artificial civilization of man’s own environment, symmetry and its opposite are what we make of it.  Since we are the masters of our own destinies, lack of symmetry does not necessitate extinction of an element of mutation.

Thus, for the Federal and Postal employee, filing for Federal Disability Retirement through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, is a viable option precisely because it is an administrative process which was created in order to allow for the potential eventuality that some workers may become disabled from being able to fully perform one’s job.

Federal Disability Retirement is a concept which works within the system of asymmetrical principles; taking full advantage of it is precisely the reason why it was formulated in the first place.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Flashpoint

The flashpoint is the temperature at which an organic compound becomes combustible; during the entire time building up to that point, the rising temperature in combination with the chemical reactiveness of the substance was all the while sitting in preparation for the point of ignition; were there options to pursue prior to the point of ignition?  If there had been a change in chemical make-up, then perhaps the point of temperature-to-combination of substance would have altered, where either a higher or lower flashpoint would occur; or, the rise of the temperature, and the rate of acceleration, could have been changed.

Whatever the needed changes in order to avoid the flashpoint, however, one thing is clear:  the options are limited, and any altered states would merely delay the ultimate event of a flashpoint occurrence.

For Federal and Postal Workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts the performance of one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the flashpoint of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is an inevitability which leaves the Federal or Postal employee similarly limited options.

One can continue in the mode of life which one finds one’s self in: of the daily treadmill of suffering through the workday with pain, profound fatigue and progressively debilitated emotional turmoil.  Or, one can wait for the Agency to initiate an adverse action, such as a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), periodic suspensions or reprimands — or removal.  Or, one can begin to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Limited options do not necessarily constitute a flashpoint of negative consequences; yes, a fire bursting in a home is a tragedy, but then there are controlled fires and even naturally occurring ones in fields of decay which benefit the environment.

It is thus ultimately up to the Federal or Postal employee to determine the point of combustibility, and therefore the timing of the event identified as the flashpoint.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Choices Left

Options presented imply the availability of alternative picks; but such choices are real ones only if they don’t magically disappear when asserting one over another.

By analogy, Agencies in a Federal Disability Retirement case may claim that all sorts of accommodations have been attempted and provided; but if an ergonomic chair has been given to an administrative worker who suffers from psychiatric conditions which impact one’s focus, concentration, and cognitive capacities, the irreconcilable lack of correspondence between the attempted aid and the medical condition suffered, amounts to an ineffective attempt at accommodations at best, and at worst, a cruel joke.

But as Agencies enjoy patting themselves on the proverbial back, so statistically they can claim that 99.9% of their employees have been accommodated; it just so happens that either the Federal or Postal employees failed to take advantage of such empathetic attempts by the agency, or were not able to appreciate the full extent of such angelic endeavors.

Many medical conditions, of course, are unresponsive to any such attempts of accommodations, precisely because of the very nature, extent and severity of the conditions themselves.  This leaves one with the only choice left:  to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

That is why the benefit was enacted; as such, there should be no reason why agencies should attempt to subvert or otherwise place obstacles in the quest for a goal which was intended to accommodate such non-accommodatable circumstances.  But then, the test of sincerity is not mere words, which can come cheaply, but through actions, which can result in a stark reality-check.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Recesses and Misguided Perspectives

Plato’s recognition of how perceptual fallacies occur became an incentive for his philosophical quest to unravel the essence of a thing, in contrast to the accidental qualities which may present themselves in their visual appearance. But misjudgments concerning what a thing “is” can occur not just because of visual disturbances; they can also result from subconscious misconceptions working in the far recesses of the mind, through isolation and fear.

Such an addition to the general philosophical inquiry would not progress until many centuries later, with the advent of Freud, Jung, psychology, and the recognition of the complexity of the human condition.  Indeed, the turmoil of human beings, especially in their interaction with relational issues, compounded in the workplace, the stresses of finance and the inability to make self-preserving decisions, often results from isolation and lack of proper guidance.  Guidance is part of the key to a release from worry, anxiety and effective decision-making.

For Federal or Postal employees who suffer from a compendium of complex medical conditions, including physical pain, psychiatric devastation from Major Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD; from profound exhaustion and fatigue; the medical condition itself may prevent one from tapping into the far recesses of one’s psyche in order to come to a proper decision on matters of great importance.

Federal Disability Retirement is an option which allows for the Federal or Postal employee to reach a point of restorative quietude away from the requirements of employment burdens, in order to seek the medical help necessary.  It does not require a standard of “total disability”, but merely one of proving that the Federal or Postal employee can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.  It must be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and thus is not a determination made by one’s own agency.

Isolation, fear, and the dangers of misguided perspectives which arise from the dark recesses of one’s mind — they must be counteracted by having a clarity of purpose, direction, and goals which provide for a brighter tomorrow.  If the rise of psychology does not accomplish this, then what good does it portend?


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Kierkegaard’s Either/Or

Life is often a series of disjunctions and bifurcation of choices; in mathematics and logic, such series of “either/or” options or “if and only if” algorithms provide a neat analytical explication of a problem.  But in daily living, numerical precision is replaced by a complex series of pragmatic decision-making options which rarely fit into a predetermined set of constants.

Soren Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher of some note, whose work entitled, “Either/Or”, presented the stark choice of following a normative life governed by principles and ethics, or one of hedonism and self-interest. One might argue that there are always “middle grounds” where such choices overlap; but the clarified standards as presented allow for foundational paradigms to be followed; let life itself impart the complexities we create of our own making.

For Federal and Postal employees considering the important step of preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, there is unfortunately a bifurcation of stark options.  For, as there are no short-term disability benefits available (unless it is a work-related injury, in which case one may file for OWCP/Department of Labor benefits; or some private disability policies), the choice is to either remain with the agency and the Federal system, and continue to deteriorate with the progressive decline of one’s health, or to file for a benefit (Federal Disability Retirement), where the medical condition must last for a minimum of 12 months and where one is separated from Federal Service upon an approval of an OPM Disability Retirement application.

The paradigms presented are clear.  The difficult part is in taking the necessary steps to choose between the disjunction of that which life presents, without getting caught up in the logical inconsistency of a world which believes itself to be rational, but acts in ways which are clearly contrary to its own normative constructs.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire