Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: Contested lives

We hear of such terms in specific linguistic contexts; of a “contested” divorce, or that a variable version of a testimony or evidence has been “contested”; or that the results of a certain race or game has been contested.  If you drop the affix placed after the stem of the word (i.e., the suffix or the “ed”), and emphasize the first syllable, it becomes a noun; whereas, if you engage in the identical mental exercise but intone upon the second syllable, it becomes a verb.

As a noun, it is normally relegated to a challenging game, a sport or perhaps some duel; when applied with the second word in the title above, it takes on a wider meaning that encompasses an endless spectrum and, unless further delineated, undefined in a disturbing way.  If denoted in a general sense, as in the statement, “All lives are contested,” the generic meaning loses its force; for, it is a truism which is rather inane in that, yes, all lives have facets of contested issues, and in that sense, it becomes a “meaningless” statement of trope and triviality.

Yet, that truism is something which we all experience.  When one hears the complaint, “Life is a series of conflicts and is a contest of endurance,” we nod our heads and know exactly what that means.  We all recognize that our lives encompass a consistent effort to contest (emphasis on second syllable), and that the contest of life is to endure (emphasis on the first syllable); and we must persevere to contest it (again, emphasis on the second syllable).

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 one’s Federal or Postal job, the truism that there are contested lives is a simple fact.  It is not just a matter of going to work – rather, it is going to work with a medical condition.  It is not just going to work and doing one’s job – it is, moreover, doing that and contending with a medical condition, as well as the growing harassment from coworkers, supervisors, and the Agency and Postal Service as a whole.

Preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be ultimately submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is also a matter of a contested life – for the bureaucratic process with OPM is an embattlement of sorts, and it only reinforces that inane, trite and trivial aspect of the statement, “We all live contested lives.”

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire