Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: The avoidance factor

When does avoidance become a problem?  Say you found out something about a close friend or neighbor — an embarrassing fact, a hidden truth or perhaps a juicy tidbit of revelations that could topple a friendship or marriage — and your self-guiding principle of being honest and forthright scares you into believing that, were you to encounter the person, you fear that either your demeanor will reveal that hidden secret, or you may be a person who cannot control your emotions and you believe that you may blurt out the secret and damage, ruin or perhaps even end the relationship altogether.

Or, maybe you avoid something simply because you dislike doing it, or fear the consequences of finding out the truth, or even disregard knowing that if you seek it and find it, the discovery itself would merely confirm the fears of life’s travails that you believe are better left alone.

What we don’t know, we can deal with; that which, once uncovered, revealed and brought out into the open, we suddenly realize is a certainty that cannot be avoided.  Is work becoming that way?  Are coworkers likewise avoiding you, and you them, with eyes averted, speaking about the weather, the last sports extravaganza, how the Orioles never seem to make the final push or whether money ruins the equality of teams, etc.?

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 the Federal or Postal job, the issue of the avoidance factor looms large.

Everyone begins to avoid the obvious — that you have a medical condition; that your medical condition impacts, impedes and prevents you from performing all of the essential elements of your job; that, perhaps, even your own doctor has already hinted at the truth of your medical condition — that you should likely seek a change of career; that the ceiling of sympathy has been reached, already, and your agency has begun to grumble about termination proceedings; and many other indicators, besides, that showing what everyone is avoiding is actually just a confirmation of the elements needed to prove a Federal Disability Retirement case; it’s just that everyone has been avoiding the obvious.

For, in the end, the proof of a Federal Disability Retirement case is likely already in existence in the very avoidance factor that you and everyone else has been tiptoeing around, and it is precisely the avoidance factor that makes of certainty the issue itself: Now is the time, and not tomorrow; today is the first step that needs to be taken, and not some obscure time down the road, and the avoidance factor that leaves everyone in the dark is like the hidden secret that everyone knows about but believes that he or she is the only one with the truth that, actually, everyone already knew.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire