FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Of the Charmed, Charted or Chartered Life

Of the troika of possibilities presented, the first is rarely available or even an option, if by a “charmed life” is defined as one where wealth is never a restrictive element, potentiality is ever compensated by unlimited resource, and freedom to choose — whether an unproductive, leisurely lifestyle or one which mixes pleasure with some semblance of “doing something” — is but a whim of desire and utterance of a command.  Few of us have this option.

As for the second — of a charted life, where cultural conventions, societal norms and limited possibilities structurally imposed by birth, circumstance and family lineage — this characterization is fast receding into the dustbins of antiquity.  For, we no longer believe that one should be constrained by outside forces — whether of teleological originations or based upon genetic dispositions.  The “charted” life — where an omnipotent external derivation or an internal, evolutionary mandate, matters not; it is, instead, the belief that the stars guide our destiny, and the hubris of Shakespeare’s characters cannot be altered by the sheer willpower of an internal desire.

Then, of the triumvirate, we are left with the third and last — of the “chartered” life, where we recognize the finite character of our existence, borrowed from a slice of timeless history, having to live the consequences of actions preceding our use of the vehicle, and appropriately adjusting the capacity to move forward based upon the present condition of our circumstances.

Do we drive the conveyor ourself, or allow for the owner to send a captain of a ship for which we have paid?  That often depends upon whether we can be trusted with the talents we are born with, the resources we inherit, and the burdens of responsibilities which we voluntarily embrace.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer 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 positional duties, the question is often likened to the options presented before the last of the triplicate:  At what point do we take charge of the chartered life, and begin to steer and maneuver beyond the pitfalls of life’s misgivings which have been presented?

Filing for Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is part of the responsibility of the Federal or Postal worker who can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position; and when the U.S. Office of Personnel Management denies a Federal Disability Retirement application, it is up to the chartered life to have charted the course of destiny towards a life more charmed.


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


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


Federal & Postal Employee Medical Separation: The abstract concept of “the other”

Existentialism could only have arisen from the ashes of nihilism; Western Philosophy, spanning the spectrum of metaphysics, epistemology, Rationalism, Empiricism and the tradition of questioning origins, essences and the compendium of who we are and what it all means, does not lead to the natural annihilation of intellectual curiosity.  But Existentialism, does.  Why?  Because Existentialism is an emotional reaction, rather than a rational rebuttal.

From the horrors of Nazi concentration camps and the denigration of human dignity reduced to mere abstractions, the philosophy of negation of which it is characterized, is more of a “sense” approach than a logical methodology of comprehension and understanding.  Thus, while traditional philosophy was always denoted by a curiosity towards abstraction, Existentialism was pulled back by a retractive revulsion because of the alienating impact of conceptualization.

That is why the most powerful explication of the philosophy of Existentialism is found in a novel by Camus (reference, The Stranger or The Plague), and not in reading Sartre’s meandering explanation (Being and Nothingness) of a confused attempt to systematize the emotive side of man.  Thus, in reading Camus, one gets the “sense” of abandonment, separation, distance and alienation of man from the community of others; whereas, in reading the traditional philosophical works — take any page from Plato, Aristotle or the Medievals — one enters an universe of order, systematized approach, and methodological rationalization emanating from curiosity and questioning.

The two approaches, however, are not unrelated; for, it is precisely because of the traditional training of discussing concepts in abstract form (and thereby separating the thought-process from human touch and interaction) that disregarding the humanity of a living being could be achieved.  In more provincial terms, it is easier to be cruel to a concept, than to one’s own child or spouse.  And, indeed, that is how we survive in advancing our purposive actions of harassment and sheer meanness; by objectifying “the other”, we can bifurcate our minds and categorize the subject into something less.

Supervisors do it to workers and underlings; no longer is the worker a fellow human being, but “that ## % !!”.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the lessons learned and gleaned from the reactive lens of Existentialism may be twofold:  First, don’t expect sympathy from the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service because you have a medical condition (that, unfortunately, is probably self-evident and a “given” already), and Second, do not expect cooperation or efficiency to suddenly prevail when engaging the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, merely because the need to obtain Federal OPM Disability Retirement should in and of itself touch a sense of empathy.

In neither case will a positive response be evoked.

Ultimately, the bureaucratic process of filing 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, is a surreal experience, and one in which the sense of alienation felt by Existentialism is encountered throughout.  That is because, in the end, the Federal or Postal applicant in a Federal Disability Retirement case is none other than a mere “other”, and no more than an abstraction to be gotten rid of, like the distraction you became when once you were no longer fully productive on the assembly line of life’s refuse of illegitimacy.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire