The hinge on a door is the mechanical contraption which allows for the swinging motion to occur. Without it, the door will remain in place or, if one attempts to pull at the door, it will merely move towards you and continue to block the pathway. Metaphors have been created from the invented device — a person can become “unhinged” meaning, similar to a door collapsing, a man or woman can lose the hope that a door represents as an entrance or an exit, to enter or leave.
Preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS for the Federal or Postal employee can represent that “hinge” on a door. It allows for hope viewed from a perspective of “now”, representing one side of the doorway, involving the debilitating medical conditions, the impact both upon one’s professional abilities, as well as upon the personal life with its correlative issues touching upon wives, children, parents, financial instability, etc.; and on the other side, the potential to receive a basic annuity so that one may exit in order to attend to the serious medical conditions without fear of becoming homeless.
Yet, during the process of attempting to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits, because of the long delays, the months upon months of uncertainty awaiting for the decision from the Office of Personnel Management, the hinges can begin to rust and crumble. This is especially true if a denial is received at the First Stage of the process, because it appears as if the door has slammed shut, and the hope for exiting and entering a different phase of one’s life has been lost. But one must never lose the proper balance and perspective that is necessary to survive the fulfillment of the entire administrative process.
Filing for, and obtaining, Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS is a process — the First Step is merely that: part of the entirety of the process. A denial at the Initial Stage of the process does not constitute an unhinging of the doorway to the future; rather, it merely represents a moment of time when the door got stuck because of the change in weather, where the wood expanded for a season, making it difficult to open it. It just needs a little more effort, and patience, to take it to the next step of the process.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire