Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The Indeterminate Deterioration

Some events come with it a specific date, and even a time; others, within a span of identified moments and blocks of weeks, sometimes months; the rest, undetermined, unspecified, like the lost soul who wanders the traversing echoes of eternal reverberations left to the sifting cleansing of a foaming ocean washing and lapping, ever repeating the comforting sounds of surf and salt strolling like the footprints gone in the sands of countless castles disappeared.  But that medical conditions would conform to the science which attempts to treat, and approach one with technical precision and certitude.

When did you first notice the symptoms, the kindly doctor asks, as you scratch your head and stutter forth an incomprehensible gibberish of a response.  A similar question is posed on SF 3112A, concerning the “date” (approximate) the Federal or Postal employee became disabled from one’s position.  How does one answer such a question?  Fortunately, it asks not for a day or time, but merely the month and year, and to that extent we can be thankful for its inherent foresight.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who attempt to answer this question without much thought or reflection, be forewarned and with a hint of suspicion; trap doors abound everywhere, and while one may overstate issues like the paranoid cousin who points a telescope not at the moon and stars, but directly at the next-door neighbor’s bedroom window, it is well to consider carefully the answer to be given.

The context of intermingling meanings:  Was it during one’s tenure as a Federal or Postal employee (for those separated but contemplating filing within 1 year of being separated from Federal Service)?  Will it prompt the question, Does the medical condition last for a minimum of 12 months, including the time encapsulating the prognosis of the doctor?  Does it coincide with any event or issue arising at work?  Does the date identified precede any adverse action promulgated by the agency or the U.S. Postal Service?  Truth is always the guide for integrity in all cases, but the reality of a medical condition is that time is often discovered on a spectrum, where chronicity and deterioration spans over many months, and often years.

To pinpoint is to be precise; but where deterioration is progressive and indeterminate, the fading sounds of an unspecified echo which bounces from cave walls to the expansive skies beyond the realm of certainty, the date recognized may be one which floats and fades like the dust of angels left as a residue of virtue.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Medical Retirement: Living “As If”

We all engage in it; it is a pastime, of sorts, which is enjoyed by the multitude, and reveals the imaginative capacity of the human animal, but with lingering questions concerning the evolutionary viability and purpose as to the utility of the need.

James Thurber’s “Walter Mitty” (the full title of the short story, which first appeared in The New Yorker in 1939, is “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”) relished the inherent escapism provided by the contrasting chasm between the monotony and oppressive reality of daily living in comparison to the far reaches of one’s imagination, thereby revealing the unconstrained heights of the human mind.

Living as if the reality of the objective world is not as it is, can be both enjoyable and healthy.  In this technological age of unfettered virtual reality, of computer-generated imagery melding the borders between that which constitutes reality and fantasy; and where little room is left to the imagination; perhaps the death of the world of imagination is about to occur.  Is that a good thing?

The problem with living “as if” has always been the other side of the two-edged knife:  the value of the first edge was always the creativity and imagination which revealed the powers of the human mind; but too much escapism, and one entered the world of self-delusion and consequential harm resulting from inattentive avoidance generated by reality’s harshness.

Some things just cannot be put aside for long.  Medical conditions tend to fall into that category, precisely because they require greater attendance to life, not less.  And that, too, is the anomaly of daily living:  when calamity hits, the world requires more, just when it is the reality of human compassion and empathy which is needed.

In the world of fantasy, those values of virtue which makes unique the human animal become exaggerated.  We enter into a world filled with excessive warmth, humanity, empathy and saving grace; when, in reality, those are the very characteristics which become exponentially magnified during times of crisis.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties in the Federal government or the U.S. Postal Service, the idea that the workplace may reveal support and accommodation for one’s medical condition is usually quickly and expeditiously quashed.

Federal and Postal workers who have given their unaccounted-for time, energy, and lives throughout the years, and who suddenly find that they cannot perform at the level and optimum capacity as days of yore, find that reality and fantasy collide to create a stark reality of disappointment.  When such a state of affairs becomes a conscious reality, consideration should always be given to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

It is an employment benefit accorded to all Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, and must ultimately be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (if one is still with the agency or on the rolls of the U.S. Postal Service, then the application for Federal Medical Retirement must first be filed through one’s Human Resource Office; or, if separated but less than 31 days since the date of separation, also through one’s own agency; but if separated for more than 31 days, then directly with OPM, but within 1 year of separation from Federal Service).

In the end, of course, the wandering imagination of the human mind only reveals an innate calling and need to escape.  Whether that call into the far recesses of fantasy reveals a defect of human capacity, or a scent of the heavenly within the brutish world of stark reality, is something which we should perhaps never question.  For, even on the darkest of days, when clouds of foreboding nightmares gather to portend of difficult days ahead, it is that slight smile upon the face of a person daydreaming amidst the halls of daily reality, that sometimes makes life livable and serene despite the calamitous howls of ravenous wolves snarling in the distant harkening of time.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Explosions of Reality, Containers of Fantasy

Disability benefits for employees in the Federal Government

It is often the converse; as reality is that which constitutes the universe of the knowable, it is that which is contained and determinably set within the parameters of perception; likewise, we normally consider fantasy as that which cannot be contained, and therefore is unstable and likened to a detonated delinquency of diverted desires.

But in limited situations, of lost hope, where youth and the vigor of expectations yet unfulfilled, and anticipated future strivings are cut short by the tragedy of circumstances unexpected and of sudden termination unrealized, it is the very disintegration and deterioration of reality which constitutes the tragedy, and its mirror image of dreams unfulfilled.

Medical conditions tend to do that; at whatever age, whether in youth or near retirement, when expectations are bluntly severed and dreams are cancelled like plane reservations where the empty seat of an awaiting corridor on a tarmac in the stillness of a foggy night merely reveals a void and vacuity of that which might have been; it is the aggregate of life, its dreams and hopes, which reveal the true nature of value and worth.

For Federal and Postal employees 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 one’s positional duties of the Federal or Postal position occupied, the need to cut short a promising career in the Federal sector constitutes an explosion of reality and a containment of dreams.

Suddenly, that project must be delayed; the expected promotion must be forgotten; that planned vacation must be canceled; the 3-day weekend with family and friends must be shelved.  Reality need not be the grandeur of paradigms, just as one’s fantasy of the utopia of one’s dreams need not include gnomes and pots of gold.

Federal Disability Retirement benefits may not seem like the granting of the singular wish one may hope for, but it is a benefit offered to all Federal and Postal employees, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, and must be proven at either the administrative level at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, or at the quasi-judicial forum of the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.  It is a benefit which allows for the important recuperative period of gaining back control of one’s life, by pushing a “reset” button and re-ordering one’s priorities in life.

It may well be that having a debilitating medical condition constitutes a metaphorical explosion of one’s reality, resulting in the containment of one’s fantasy; but the greater tragedy would be if the circumstances of one’s life explodes one’s fantasy and dreams for the future, with the consequence of containing forever the reality of one’s life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Macro & Microcosms

Reading the newspapers can be a tricky affair; for, while the importance of being “informed” must arguably override the need and desire to remain untroubled, one cannot but engage a short perusal before concluding that cataclysmic events daily dominate. Perhaps sensationalism and the competitive drive to sell a story requires the printing of negative news; or, maybe there is a journalistic force of integrity demanding that crimes, wars, ruination of reputation, and calamities both natural and man-made be the center of our attention.

The macrocosmic events which have little to no direct connection to our lives, are allowed in by our need to be informed; and, as gatekeepers of what enters our insular world of quietude, such disturbing allowances prevail upon us at our discretion. Medical conditions, of course, are of a different generic stripe.

Within the microcosm of our peaceful and mundane lives, the intrusion of a medical disability, whether of an acute and sudden nature, or of the more insidious, chronic and progressively debilitating nature, is akin to a stealthy burglar who invades without invitation, who creates havoc without discretion, and who leaves behind a trail of overturned chaos with little understanding or sympathy.  The microcosmic universe of one’s personal mind, body, soul and emotional balance, can turn into a turmoil of abysmal ravages no less than a war-torn nation some thousands of miles away, and having no direct connection to one’s town, neighborhood or household, but with just as devastating consequences.

For the Federal and Postal employee, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, is merely a trifle of a step in an attempt to stabilize the chaos one experiences when the microcosmic world of one’s creation becomes likened to the macrocosmic state of disastrous events.

Federal Disability Retirement is a “positive” step within a disintegrating universe impacted on a large scale by a deteriorating medical condition which prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing all of the essential elements of one’s job.  It is a goal sought in order to reach a state where one can attend to chasing out the proverbial burglar, or at least to straighten out the mess left behind.

In the end, try as we might, perhaps we can never truly escape the deep abyss of the human condition; and ultimately, perhaps it is best to cancel one’s subscription, and instead become lost in a novel about elves and hobbits. Ah, but we forget…there are those unseemly orcs, too.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire