OPM Medical Retirement Law Blog: The Mannequin

The garment may alter, but the pose remains stilted; and no matter what angle the inertia of fashion may be looked at, the expression remains impassive and impenetrable.  Mannequins pose for the public, display the wears without complaint, and fill spaces without disturbances or complaints.  They simply “are”.  Such an existence — of an uncomplaining coexistence with eyes meant to attract upon the changing appearances intended to detract — is often the very definition of a Federal employee or a U.S. Postal worker.

Like mannequins stilted in front of a display window, the Federal and Postal worker is often “there” for years and decades, quietly performing the work that is assigned, accomplishing without accolades but for internal performance reviews and peer ratings, expected to remain silent but for the wears which are displayed.  But then an illness, a medical condition, a disability suddenly enlivens, and the once quietude of existence becomes a focal point of harassment, workplace hostility and trends of gossip.

That mannequin was a person, after all, and interest is remarkably shown when ignoring and repetitive superficiality of meaningless salutations once pervaded the office or work environment.

For Federal or Postal employees, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the best option remaining.

The eyes which merely looked beyond the stilted figure but are now upon the live entity, need to again be diverted, such that life can go on again.  To get beyond an environment of poison is to sometimes exit quietly and without fanfare; filing for Federal Disability Retirement is a way for Federal and Postal employees to step outside of the self-destructive hostility, and to rebuild the life once dreamed of by attending to one’s medical condition, first, while securing a future or a second vocation.

Once attained, perhaps those who surround with love and concern will look upon the mannequin beyond the mere appearances, and instead to the substance of the person beneath.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

The Devaluation of the Federal Employee with Disabilities

Countries engage it deliberately with its currencies; economic circumstances force it based upon fluctuating market volatility; and the basic principles in capitalism of supply and demand will often expect it.

Currencies are never stable indexes despite the best attempts by countries to manage and control their economies; the fact is, in this interconnected world of global economic entanglement, devaluation of worth can occur overnight, just after the soft breathing of nightfall overtakes, but before the dawn of first light when the halls of stock markets in faraway colonnades lined in symmetrical facades open their doors for the business of commodity markets.

Fortunes can be made, and lost, overnight; but the devaluation of that which implicates worth, can just as easily fall upon the human soul.  Medical conditions tend to do that.  We exchange, trade, value and appraise based upon a commodity’s supply, demand, desire and greed of want; but when it comes to human beings, though we deny such callous approaches, the encounter with such baseness still prevails.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker, facing devaluation is nothing out of the ordinary when a medical condition hits.  Once the Federal or Postal worker suffers 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, the avenue of choices becomes starkly clear:  One can try to hang on; one can walk away with nothing to show for those many years of dedicated and loyal service; or one can file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

It is the last of the tripartite alternatives which is the best option, and one which can secure a future for the Federal or Postal employee.  For, ultimately, the whole point of devaluation in paradigms of economic theory, is to stabilize the currency for future years; it is the experience of short-term suffering to attain long-term calm.  Economics is merely a microcosmic reflection of a macro-global perspective, and application of parallel principles are relevant to situations which might otherwise appear foreign.

Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service engage in devaluation, just as governments do, when the worth of the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker is seen in terms of productivity for the moment, and not for the long-term benefit gained for the future.

We live in a world of short selling trades; everything is seen for the immediacy of gain; but fortunately for the Federal or Postal worker who must contend with the attitude and approach of a Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service in viewing the devaluation of the worker based upon productivity, the option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is one which is available, attractive, and allowable for those who are eligible to prepare, formulate and file for the benefit.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

The Self-Image of a Postal or Federal Employee after a Disabling Injury or Other Medical Condition

Thurber’s Walter Mitty is not an anomaly; each of us carries a fiction within our insular souls, of lives extended into a world of fantasy, trespassing between daydreams and thoughts of heroic deeds beyond the mundane routines of daily living.  Perhaps there are those in the world whose lives are so adventure-filled that such retinues of alternative parallelism within universes of imaginations becomes unnecessary; but that is a rarity, as human beings are partly unique because of the creative outreach beyond the present circumstances of life.

It is only when such creative imaginations directly encounter and contradict the reality of life; where one begins to imagine beyond the imagination, and talk and act “as if” the virtual reality constitutes the real reality, that problems can occur.   The fragile demarcation between sanity and insanity may be arbitrarily imposed by an unforgiving society, but it is a boundary wide enough to entrap the unwary.  Medical conditions have a tendency to stretch that line.  Whether because of the stresses encountered in this age of modernity and technological complexity; or perhaps the inability to adapt, where evolutionary tools have not been able to keep up with the pace of change; whatever the reasons, medical conditions force the facing of reality, the starkness of our mortality, and the need for change.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, the primary need is often the time of recuperation.  But the unforgiving nature of Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service will often refuse to grant that necessary time in order to reach a plateau of recovery.  Federal Disability Retirement benefits, filed through one’s agency (if you are still on the rolls of the agency, or have been separated but not more than 31 days has passed) and ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is a means to an end.

Often, one thinks of “disability retirement” as an end in and of itself; but because Federal Disability Retirement allows for, and implicitly encourages, the Federal and Postal worker to consider employment opportunities outside of the Federal Sector after securing Federal Medical Retirement benefits, it should instead by seen as an intermediate component of one’s life.

Making a living is a challenge enough; the loss of one’s self-image through the impact of a medical condition can be a devastating interruption to the challenge; but for the Federal and Postal employee who can secure a Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefit, the interruption can be seen as a mere interlude, for greater opportunities extending into the future, and thereby allow from the daydreams of Walter Mitty to be enjoyed as mere reflections of pleasure, instead of wishful swan songs of a closing chapter as the curtain descends upon the epilogue of one’s life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Uncertainty and Confusion: The Federal Employee’s Sense of Identity

It is through ascription from third parties, over extended time periods, where the development of self-identity takes root, through subtle, incremental ways, until one day, unnoticed, without fanfare and unheralded, it becomes a known quantity of acceptance within one’s social circles, professional associations and the greater macrocosmic world we encounter.

The day or the time can never be pinpointed; having a name plate designed and placed upon one’s desk does not provide it; and calling yourself repetitively the title or nomenclature doesn’t quite satisfy the requirements of the sought after.  That is the anomaly; one’s identity is who one is; yet, it cannot be established by the is-ness of being; it is dependent upon the declared identification of that is-ness by others who recognize the being-ness of the individual seeking the is-ness of the person within a specified time, constrained by the community of place, and bordered by the parameters of choice. “Oh, that is so-and-so”; “Yes, Linda is the Director of ____”; “Our Letter Carrier? He’s John ___”; and so does one live within the identity of third-party ascriptions, and how we develop the self-reflection of who we are.

When lost, the crisis of self-identity comes to the fore. When it is stripped prematurely; when choices must be made to abandon the identity; when external circumstances necessarily dictate a change of identity; the crisis is exponentially quantified.

For the injured Federal employee or the chronically ill Postal Worker who must file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the crisis of identity is often inseparable from the anxieties driven by an overwhelming sense of fear, loathing, and anxiousness over a future unknown and unanticipated. For, having a medical condition which suddenly dictates the terms of one’s choices, is essentially a negation of all that one has worked for; and to top it all, one’s very identity which has been ascribed — almost without thought, presumptively and assumed throughout without daily payment or homage for retention or reapplication to maintain the worth and value of that title — is about to be stripped, lost, taken away, and thrown into the greater heap of forfeited titles.

Abandonment, release, and sudden absconding from a known and identifiable context of life; that is how it often feels when one loses one’s identity. The medical condition itself, however, must dictate the terms of disengagement; filing for Federal Disability Retirement is a necessity and the urgency of doing so will allow for that plateau of rehabilitation in order to attend to the priorities of life; for, without life, there can be no identity, whether one’s past, present, or future ascription of the honorific title is grand or insignificant. In the end, one needs to recognize that the title most prominent and of greatest priority, is the given life as recognized in one’s reflection, and not the fleeting glory attained through accolades from others, no matter how great it all felt at the time.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire