Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: Waves of Misfortune

Metaphors allow us to understand our circumstances; by relating the circumstance to the natural world around us, we feel a greater kinship when, in all other aspects of our lives, we have tried to alienate ourselves and artificially separate our lives from the origins of our own existence.  Similes, of course, always contain the comparative contrast that allows for a space between that which is compared and the reality of “what is”.

Thus, to say that “X is like Y” is quite different from saying that “X is Y”, even though we know in both instances that X is not Y, and that is precisely why we assert that there is a likeness between X and Y (because “likeness” is not the same as “sameness”) and also why we declare X to be Y even though they are not one and the same.  Thus is there a difference between “Waves of misfortune” (a metaphor) and “Misfortune are like waves” (a simile).

The comparative preposition creates a once-removed parallelism (simile), whereas the metaphor makes no doubt of the mirror image of one with the other.

Medical conditions are more like metaphors (here, we are utilizing a simile to describe a metaphor); there is no space or removal between the situations being compared.  To have a medical condition is not “like” something else; rather, it is the reality of one’s existence.  It is through metaphors, however, as well as similes that we describe the symptoms to our doctors and others, to try and help them understand what it is like to be in constant pain, to be depressed, to be profoundly fatigued.

And for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition necessitates preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it must be understood that the Federal Disability Retirement “package” is a paper presentation to OPM, and thus must by necessity use both metaphors and similes in order to persuade OPM of having met the legal criteria of a FERS Disability Retirement application.

The “waves of misfortune” must be described persuasively, lest they become a metaphor for failure in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application that results in a denial as opposed to an approval.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


FERS Disability Retirement: Patterns of existence

If you live long enough, you begin to see the patterns of existence; and, perhaps, that is why cynicism begins to creep into the lives of the older generation.  When you have “seen it all”, does the shadow which looms upon the radiance of a midday smile begin to fade with the vestiges of dark clouds approaching?

The repetition of vacuous words emitted from the caverns of a politician’s mouth; the crime waves that never seem to relent no matter the spectrum of punishment versus economic investment; the inflationary impact upon the valuation of monetary policy; and the general rule that, for the most part, tomorrow will be no different than today, and today is the measure to determine the memories of yesterday.

Is there really a “pattern” that comes about every 50, 70, or 100 years?  Many of us may live to witness such patterns if it is the first in the tripartite sequence of numbers — but does twice in witnessing constitute a “pattern”, per se?

Say you saw that X happened when first you became aware of your surroundings after birth; and 50 years later, you saw the same, or “similar” occurrence; does that constitute a “pattern”, or is it merely what Hume contended, that the mere fact of B following upon A does not constitute causality, but merely a coincidence of happenstance of one occurring after the other because there is no “necessary connection” between A and B.  Or, is it that we attribute patterns of existence because we ourselves reside in such repetitive monotony based upon expectations that the room we exited from will still exist in fairly the same way as we left it upon returning to it — vestiges of Berkeley’s idealism and definition of “existence” wedded to perceptual departure?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer 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 his or her position with the Federal Government or U.S. Postal Service, FERS Disability Retirement should be an option to consider.

Just remember, however, the “rules” governing the patterns of existence: Don’t ever think that such a bureaucratic procedure can be easily maneuvered through; don’t presume that your case is an “easy” one; and don’t believe everything that your Human Resource Office, your Supervisor or even your “best friend at work” is going to tell you everything you need to know.  To do so would be to violate the first rule in the patterns of existence: Things are always more complicated than they seem.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Preparing the case

For some reason, Federal and Postal workers who “prepare” and submit a Federal Disability Retirement application, do so without much thought as to what is entailed by the entire process.

They will often rely upon what the “Human Resource Office” tells them — of forms to fill out, what form to give to the doctor, the form to give to the supervisor, etc., and will spend more time trying to figure out the confusing life insurance form than in preparing the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (SF 3112A) or the legal precedents that govern Federal Disability Retirement Law — and then, when it gets denied at the Initial Stage of the process and the Federal or Postal Disability Retirement applicant goes back to the H.R. “Specialist” and asks, “Well, what do I do now?”, the response is: “That is not our problem; that’s a problem you have to deal with.”

Accountability is not known to be a commonly recognized characteristic in a Human Resource Office, and while there are never any guarantees in life, in any sector or endeavor, at a minimum, when one is being “assisted” and guided through an administrative process, it is important to know whether or not whoever you are relying upon will see you through to the end.

Why the Federal or Postal employee who begins the process of preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application does so without the same care, scrutiny and comprehensive approach as one does in “other” legal cases, is a puzzle.

Federal Disability Retirement — whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset — is as complex a case as any other, and should be approached with the same intensity, technical application and expertise as a patent and trademark case, or a complicated medical malpractice filing.  For, a Federal Disability Retirement case involves every aspect of any other type of complex litigation — of the proper medical evidence to gather; of meeting the established legal standard in order to meet the burden of proof; of citing the relevant legal precedents in order to persuade the reviewer at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; and presenting a compelling description to a “jury” at OPM that one has met the nexus between “having a medical condition” and the inconsistency inherent with the positional duties required, etc.

In the end, preparing the case for submission of a Federal Disability Retirement application involves greater complexity than what the layman can normally account for, and as the fine print in those television commercials state involving sporty vehicles maneuvering at high speeds, you may not want to try this on your own.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire