OPM Disability Retirement Lawyer: Loss of Identity

It is often the fear of losing one’s identity which prevents one from moving forward and doing what one must, what one should, and what one needs to do in life.

For some, it may involve the complexity of human interaction and involvement with people; for others, a sense of accomplishment and goal-oriented tasks; but for all, the identity of self developed through reputation, interaction, subjectively-held viewpoints and objectively-determined statements of fact: “others” see you as the Federal Air Marshal, the Auditor, the Mail Carrier, the Electronic Technician, the Air Traffic Controller, the Budget Analyst, the Attorney-Advisor, the Administrative Officer, and a multitude of other identifiable positions which grant to the Federal or Postal employee a defined role in the mission of a Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

It is precisely that objectively-applied identity, developed through years of self-identification combined with being defined by others, which in their cumulative aggregation, forms the knowledge of self over the years.  Such an identity becomes threatened, however, when loss of position becomes a reality in the fact of a medical condition which begins to prevent the Federal employee or the Postal worker from continuing in the role of the defined position.

For Federal employees and Postal workers who discover that the intersection of life’s misfortunes cannot be fully resolved in favor of what one wants, but must consider what is needed and required, the realization that loss of identity often raises the specter of roadblocks preventing the building of necessary steps, which then results in procrastination and greater loss due to delay, is a daily encounter with contradictions and conflicts which cannot be compromised.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, for the Federal employee or Postal worker who is under either FERS or CSRS, is a necessity mandated by circumstances beyond one’s control. It is when a medical condition begins to impact one’s ability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, that consideration needs to be given to filing for disability with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

The fear of loss of identity-through-job is ultimately an imaginary one, and one which belies the true essence of a person’s identity. One can get caught up in the “mission of the agency” or the camaraderie of corporate functions; but in the end, but for one’s health, very little retains meaning or significance; and to sacrifice one’s health for a bureaucratic entity which will survive long after one’s life, is a folly encapsulating tragic proportions.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


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