FERS Medical Retirement: Absurdity with an explanation

According to Quine, the great mathematician and logician, that is the definition of a paradox.  It is an event or a concept that seems at first glance to be an impossibility, or a conundrum of some complexity, but can be explained to unfold the absurdity first displayed.  Thus — of the man who has walked the earth for decades but is technically only 9 years old, until one realizes that his birthday falls on the 29th of February, a date that appears only once every 4 years; this is a paradox, until the absurdity is explained and it suddenly makes sense.

Similarly, a medical condition is a paradox: It is an absurdity of sorts, especially when it hits a person in the prime of his or her life.  What possible explanation can be had?  Where is the “fairness” in it, and why do some people who eat all sorts of junk food for years on end never experience the calamity of a chronic and progressively deteriorating medical condition?  Where is the “equal employment opportunity” of a devastating medical condition?

Where is the sense of “fair play” displayed when a medical condition pounces upon a Federal or Postal employee and suddenly no amount of past accomplishments make up for the sudden loss of productivity and need to use the accumulated sick leave, and even invoke FMLA rights in order to attend to one’s health?

For Federal and Postal employees 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 position, the paradox comes in the form of when to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  For, filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is indeed an admission of a need for change; yet, paradoxically, change is precisely what your Federal Agency or the Postal Service does NOT want — they want you to continue as before the onset of your medical condition.

The absurdity resides in the lost sense of priorities: work, as opposed to one’s health; stresses that exacerbate, as opposed to relieving those elements that contribute to one’s deteriorating conditions.  The only explanation that makes sense is to prepare, formulate and file a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to OPM in order to be able to focus upon one’s health.

That is the paradox, and the absurdity with an explanation for a Federal or Postal employee who needs to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire