OPM Disability Retirement under FERS: Confronting Reality

When are the times we try and avoid it?  Is that the line between sanity and the “darker world”?  If we avoid it more than we embrace it, does it constitute a step beyond eccentricity and fall into the category of bizarre behavior?  If that were the case, how many of us would meet that definition?  Does engaging in entertainment — whether of the couch potato type or of the active one — constitute avoidance?

Say a person binge-watches a certain television series for 72-hours straight, then sleeps for another 72 hours; such a person has certainly “avoided” the reality of life’s responsibilities, duties, obligations, etc.  But would we deem such a person to be insane?  If he were a bachelor who has no commitments or responsibilities, and acted in such a manner during “vacation time” or during a period of unemployment, we would perhaps not give it a second thought.  But say the same person had a toddler whom he neglected for those 100-plus hours — then, of course, we would consider it as irresponsible behavior, if not criminal neglect.

“Confronting reality” is often deemed the antonym of “avoiding reality”; it is something we all do — both confronting and avoiding — and crosses the diving line between “responsible” and “irresponsible” behavior.  Of course, the latter is sometimes necessary in order to refresh one’s self in order to engage in the former, and so we embrace entertainment and leisure activities in order to adequately prepare ourselves to cross over from one to the other.

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 his or her position, confronting reality is often delayed in order to try and extend one’s career with the Federal government.  Often, early on in suffering from a medical condition, it becomes quite clear whether or not the Federal or Postal worker can continue in his or her chosen career.  This is the point where “confronting reality”, however, clashes with the desire to avoid it and to instead embrace the make-believe universe of “What ifs” — What if things improve?  What if the Agency or Postal Service is willing to be patient?  What if they can accommodate me?

Consult with an attorney experienced in Federal Disability Retirement Law; for as difficult as it may be in confronting reality, it is the reality of the law that will help you avoid the pitfalls which you will surely want to avoid in the days to come.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire