Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Ends and beginnings

It is the linear manner in which we perceive the world; of straight lines as opposed to circular figures; of two points or perhaps three, then again lines of intersection and connecting the dots, instead of arcs that waver and detour beyond the directional certainty of point A to Point B and beyond.  “Ends” we recognize by the symphony that crescendos and the credits that scroll down and display the accomplishments unto the “Assistant to the Assistant director of Operational Assistants”; or, at least when the black screen declares, “The End”.

And of beginnings?  Other than the first breath taken, the consummation of love’s forlorn initial encounters and the memories of childhoods harkening back to hazy summer evenings that may be real or mixed with what was told about you when you were young; perhaps beginnings can never be ascertained with as much certainty as the endings that suddenly come upon us.

We tend to bifurcate our lives with straight and intersecting lines; “Here is when X happened”; “Over there, that is when Y began.”

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who began their careers with the hopes and dreams of all who enter the workforce, full of vigor and enthusiasm, coopted by the “mission of the agency” or the team spirit reinforced by the accolades given in performance reviews, bonuses granted and promotions within sight of tomorrow – the slow deterioration of a medical condition can come to one’s realization as a devastating recognition that an “end” is coming, without the concomitant accompaniment of the clear “beginning” to follow.

Where does something “end”, and something else “begin”?

Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management because the Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position is indeed an “end” of sorts, but it must also be viewed as an important “beginning”.

It is the beginning of attending to the priorities of life; of starting to focus upon one’s health and well-being; of recognizing that others at the Federal agency or the Postal service have seen the “end” of your career.

Yet, perspectives matter, and how we view things do make a difference, and it is the “beginnings” that come after the “end” that matters.  For, the “Assistant to the Assistant director of Operational Assistants” hopefully did not end his or her career with that final credit noted at the end of that B-rated movie; hopefully, he became the director of Operational Assistants, or perhaps the director himself or herself.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire



Medical Retirement from Civil Service: Chaotic interludes

The root word itself stands for the state of being prior to the ordering of the universe – either by the hand of God or through natural evolution; or, if you are a Get Smart fan, it is spelled somewhat differently – KAOS – and is actually not an acronym that stands for anything, but is an international organization set to do evil that only Maxwell Smart, Agent 86 and his partner Agent 99 can prevent from accomplishing their terrible deeds; or, if you are an engineer, you may know the acronym as standing for “Knowledge Acquisition in Automated Specification”.

In any of the events, the state of Being otherwise recognized as “Chaos” (or its alternative spelling, KAOS) is identified as something unwelcoming, insidious and to be forever avoided.  Yet, life brings about such states from time to time, as if to remind us that order, sequence, linear models of livelihoods and pristine beauties of uninterrupted serenity are rare in the discourse of nature’s continuum.

Chaotic interludes tend to rear its ugly head just when things seem to be going smoother; when we least expect it; when the quietude of our lives seem in perfect balance; then the disaster, the disordering impact, the jumbling-up and shaking it all about comes crashing like thunder in the night to awaken us with a start.  A start?  To do what?

Perhaps as a test; as a challenge; to rethink the priorities of our lives; and to remind us that life is not a matter of slumber and remaining in a constant state of stupor and repetitive thoughtlessness, but a chasm of necessity mandating daily focus, concentration and attention to the important things around us.  Maybe we were becoming too complacent; perhaps the monotony of habit was making of us all bores to be avoided; or, more likely, we were just getting steeped into the ego of our own self-centeredness.

Whatever the reason, chaotic interludes tend to hit us in bumps and pushes, sort of like standing in a line to get into a movie theater or on the waiting list for a restaurant, and suddenly an earthquake hits the area, or a robber comes running out of the establishment and pushing you onto the street where oncoming traffic busily spins its wheels, or more commonly, you are diagnosed with an unexpected medical condition, and that medical condition becomes a slowly deteriorating, progressively debilitating state of Being.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact the capacity and ability to perform the essential elements of one’s position with the Federal Government or Postal Facility in ways that clearly show that you cannot do the job anymore, the concept of chaotic interludes is nothing new.  The real question is:  What to do about it?

One option is to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  That’s the thing about chaotic interludes; the options available are often limited; but out of the chaos that ensues, what is often important is to recognize the problem and tackle the issue in the best possible manner.

Otherwise, call Maxwell Smart and hope that his shoe-phone is in good working order.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: The factors to consider

Whenever a problem arises, are you the kind of person who immediately rushes headfirst in order to “solve” it?  Are you like a first responder who by necessity, duty or conscience of being, sprints to save and runs to resolve?  Or, in contradistinction to circumstances that require thoughtless effort but urgent actions, do you consider the factors and ask the question, What criteria must be applied?  What would be considered a resolution of the problem, as opposed to a temporary cessation of a crisis-driven implementation?

The two are somewhat dissimilar, of course, in that the first example often does not have the luxury of pausing for a query, and the latter may allow for an ebb of questioning.

Thus, one would not want a philosopher pondering the conundrum of existential posits when the primary pipe draining sewage away from one’s home has a crack that is growing into an open fissure.  On the other hand, if repetition of recurring problems have haunted for some time, and the solution appears to require something beyond mere pragmatic settlement but a higher order of principled restraint, the factors leading to an overarching criterion may be mandated for a more far-reaching solution.

This is true in much of life.  There are many who repeat the same thoughtless actions only to find that the temporary solution comes back with ever greater fervor; few who ponder the underlying principles; and lesser still of a community of thoughtful cadavers who awaken from the slumber of daily monotony to consider the underlying factors that gird the first principles of life itself.

What factors need to be considered?  Where do we go from here?  Can we live on such reduced income?  Can we make it to the age of retirement, or the required combination of service time plus age, and still be in good enough health to enjoy some semblance of a retirement?  Will my agency continue to harass, employ mechanisms of onerous leave restrictions, and ultimately impose the sanctions of constant workplace hostility, and can I survive them all?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have come to a crossroads of sorts, where the medical condition, the inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, and the pressure that can no longer be withstood with the coalescence of such onerous burdens, preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the first step in resolving the repetition of a horrendous culture of dismay.

Life is never perfect, but when a problem which appears persistent and chronic will not simply go away because being a first responder is not the right solution to the difficulty, then the Federal or Postal employee must consider the factors that underlie the problems which constitute the principles inherent, and move forward with pragmatic steps towards a brighter future for tomorrow.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Disability Retirement: Avoiding the repetitive in a narrative

Why do we believe that adding the repetition of words, especially adverbs, will create a compelling narrative?  If you ascribe an adjective to an object, then ad an adverb – say, “very” – does repeating and inserting another magnify the significance of the narrative itself, or detract by placing a grammatical marker by bringing attention that the very necessity of the addition undermines the efficacy of the noun to which all of the additions point to, in the first place?  May not the noun itself stand on its own two feet, so to speak; or, at least with the supportive crutches of an adjective?

If a person posits that things are “very bad”, does the person responding who adds, “No, things are very, very bad” contribute to the discourse in that singular addition?  And what of the third in the discussion, who says, “Yes, I must agree, things are very, very, very bad”?  And what if a fourth person – unassuming and generally unemotional, who puts a sense of finality to the entire conversation by declaring:  “No, you are all right.  Things are bad.”  Did the last statement without the adverb and the repetition of additional tautological ringers, say anything less in the utterance, and conversely, did the third contributor add anything more to the discourse?

Often enough in life, that which we believe we are enhancing, we are merely detracting from in the very repetition of discourse.  It is like a signal or a marker; the red flag that arises suspicion is sometimes waved through the unintentional attempt to bring about attention through repetitive enhancement, and it is often the noun with the singular adjective that evinces the quietude of force in grammatical parlay.  Pain, anguish and medical conditions often seek to descriptively reveal through unnecessary repetition.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who is working on preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted through one’s own agency or the H.R. Shared Services Center (for Postal employees) in Greensboro, N.C. (if the Federal or Postal employee is still with the Federal Agency, or not yet separated for more than 31 days), preparing adequate and sufficient responses on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, must be embraced with care, fortitude, forthrightness and deliberation of factual, medical, legal and personal weaving of a compelling narrative.

Inclusion of too many adverbs may be a distraction; meanderings of thought and unnecessary information will undermine the entirety of the construct; and while the linguistic tool of repetition can be effective and compelling, too much of a “good thing” may undermine the singularity of a narrative’s natural soul.

In the end, the Statement of Disability prepared by a Federal or Postal Disability Retirement applicant should be a compelling narrative delineating a discourse of bridging the nexus between medical condition and one’s positional duties.  It should be descriptive.  It should be very descriptive.  It should be very, very descriptive.  It should also include the descriptive, the legal and the personal, just not very, very, very so.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire



OPM Medical Retirement: The silence erupting in the room

You go out for a moment – perhaps to smoke a cigarette (do people actually do that these days?), to “freshen up” (is that necessarily a sexist presumption, in that women are the only ones who need to do so, or wasn’t it more likely just a euphemism to avoid the crass declaration that one has to “go to the potty”?) or just to get away from the din of dinner conversation; and, upon reentering the room those eyes look askance, askew, and away from you.

What happened?  Does suspicion abound, or is it merely paranoia that prevails?  Does sudden silence simultaneously synchronized with one’s reappearance constitute enough evidence to conclude that the gossip previously directed at someone other than yourself had shifted to include the reentering individual just previously having disappeared for a brief interlude?

Perhaps, instead, just before coming back to join the fray, there had been a pause in the conversation; or, it just so happened that everyone was taking a sip or gulp of whatever people were drinking, and as you reentered, the cumulative silence just so happened to prevail at the precise moment of appearance.  Coincidences of such natures do occur; yet, there is always that nagging feeling that the exact opposite is true – that, yes, they were all talking about you, and the embarrassing silence suddenly pervaded like a heavy London fog suddenly extracting its shroud of mystery and burden of conversation upon a topic well-worn by clawing swipes and innuendoes otherwise left undefended.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are suffering from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, that is often the fear and the gloom of dread, isn’t it?  That you – the absent Federal employee; the Postal worker who has filed for FMLA protection; the Federal employee who has been on extended LWOP – are the subject of constant gossip, and the grumblings and lies disseminated become the silence erupting in the room.

In the end, there is little that can be done about people who engage in gossip, whether in the bathroom, the kitchen or at the workplace; people will talk, and somehow believe that it makes them superior.

Ultimately, the best revenge is to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application and file it through one’s agency or U.S. Postal Service H.R. Office, and submit it to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in order to escape from the din of cheap talk and chicanery, such that it becomes irrelevant whether, upon reappearance into a roundtable full of gossipers, the silence erupting in the room had to do with you, or just a mere coincidence of unexplainable phenomena coalescing just at the moment of reentrance.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire