Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Sun rise, son set

Can homonyms be mistakenly utilized in spoken language, or only if written?  When we speak, do we have a conceptualized entity of the sentence spoken within the mind’s eye, or is it all just the blather of our own voice which prevails upon the sensitive ears of others?  If we have a word misspelled in our own minds as we speak of it, does it count?

Or, what do you make of a person who says, “I believe that the son is about to set”, then apologizes profusely, saying, “Oh, I am so sorry for the mistake; I was thinking about my son just as the sun was about to set, and mistakenly inserted one for the other as I declared the sun about to set.”  Does it even make sense to apologize?  Yet, in his own mind, he has made an error that needed to be corrected, so the further question would be: Can an error be one if no one else but the person who made the error recognizes it?

Oh, but if only this were true in all sectors of life — take, as another example, a person who finds that his bank account has been deposited with an astronomical sum: instead of $200.00 deposited on Thursday, the bank records show a deposit of 2 millions dollars.  You go to the bank and inquire, and the bank manager treats you like royalty and says, “No, no, there was no error; it was definitely a deposit of 2 million dollars.”  You know that an error has been committed; no one else will acknowledge it, and feigns either ignorance or rebuts your presumptuousness that you are correct and all others are wrong.

Is such a case similar to the one about homonyms in one’s own private world?

Or how about its opposite — Son rise, sun set.  You say that to someone else — “Yes, the son will rise, and the sun will set.”  It appears to sound like one of those pithy statements that is meant to be profound: “Yes, the sun will rise, and the sun will set”, stated as a factual matter that cannot be disputed.  Was an error made?  Do you turn to the individual who made the declarative assessment and correct him — “Excuse me, but you misspelled the first ‘son’ and should have been ‘sun’”?  And to that, what if the speaker says, “No, I meant it as it is spelled; you see, my son gets up to go to work when the sun sets.”

Of course, how would we know unless the speaker were to spell the words out as he is speaking — you know, that annoying habit that people engage in when they think that everyone around is an idiot who cannot spell, as in: “Now, watch as the entourage — e-n-t-o-u-r-a-g-e for those who don’t know how to spell and who don’t know the meaning of the word — comes into view.”  To such people, we roll eyes and step a distance away.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are wondering what homonyms have to do with Federal Disability Retirement issues, the short answer is: Not much.  Instead, the point of it all is to have the Federal and Postal employee understand that preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is much like having a private thought — the medical condition — which is suddenly revealed only after we choose to do so.

Medical conditions are extremely private and sensitive matters, and are often hidden by taking great extremes of cautionary steps.  Privacy is crucial, but when the decision is finally made to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, you must accept that others will come to know the reality of the privacy you have protected for so long — somewhat like the sun rising and the son setting, only with greater significance and painful reality.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire