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

 

Postal & Federal Disability Retirement Benefits: Beyond the Efficacy of Advice

There comes a point where the tripartite intersection between factual urgency, advice, and the receptiveness to such advisory delineations, becomes a futile act of inertia.  Facts are often self-evident to most who seek to view and understand them; advice, based upon the facts as presented, is rarely profound or enlightening, and quite often merely states the obvious, based upon the facts as perceived; but it is the problematic venue of the one to whom advice is given, where negation of due consideration and persistence in intractable stubbornness betrays the efficacy of the first two prefatory components.

The good thing about advice is that it is free; the bad, is that it can be ignored or otherwise shelved into bifurcated compartments of a schizophrenic mindset. The real quandary comes, however, when the tripartite intersection is met with a fourth element, making it into a quadrilateral conundrum:  a state of affairs which actually is self-destructive.  Medical conditions fit into that category.

When medical conditions have a chronic and debilitating aspect, manifesting a progressive deterioration upon the individual through systemic failures and symptoms warning of greater impending trauma upon the body or psyche, and one refuses to acknowledge the signals or otherwise ignores the urgency of telltale signs, then the avoidance of the coalescence of facts, advice and receptiveness to advice goes beyond mere qualitative stubbornness, but becomes a character flaw of ignorance and deliberate dimwittedness.

Whether the medical condition involves physical pain and conditions represented by chronic back or neck pain, degenerative disc disease, shoulder impingement syndrome, internal knee derangement, Crohn’s Disease, Sjogren’s Syndrome, Rotator Cuff injury, or a whole host of other physical conditions; or, perhaps it encapsulates psychiatric conditions of Major Depression, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, suicidal ideations, Bipolar Disorder, etc. — whatever the medical condition, when the facts speak, the advice reinforces, and receptiveness to the advice is negated through stubbornness or intractable refusal, the time to consider alternative approaches to life must be faced.

For Federal and Postal employees who are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is that option of consideration.  If the medical condition impacts the Federal or Postal employee’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, then it is time to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

If the Federal or Postal employee’s treating doctor has already stated that seeking a different line of work is advisable, but that point of intersection where facts, advice, and receptiveness to such advisory delineations has been ignored, but where the fourth quadrant involving increasing medical manifestation continues to haunt, then it may be time to reconsider, and engage in the most primordial of acts which even the lowest of primates does not ignore:  self-preservation.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Medical Retirement: The Bygone Era of the Single Photograph

It sits upon a private pedestal, prominent for its centrality and foundational focus; it is that which lives are built upon, like the cornerstone which, if withdrawn, unravels the structural integrity and shatters the countenance of teleological significance. But with time, they fade; that which was thought to be timeless and withstanding of mortality, as with all things less than angels but stewards of God’s gifts; and the chemical admixtures which created the bright sheen in the first days thereafter, are now but fading glories of past experiences gathered through a lifetime of memories.

It used to be that photographs were special captives of a moment in time, frozen of significance, and encapsulated by relevance in the important event of a greater life.  The wedding photograph — that serious pose of two people, strangers but for a period of courtship, who stare into the lens where, in a flash of a frozen eternity of bliss, the images reflected upside down represent a commitment beyond mere contractual combining of lives.

Today, with digital cameras, the world is viewed through virtual reality, where experiences are no longer preserved for posterity, but where the perceptual “now” parallels the receptors of immediacy.  An event is no longer captured in a singular photograph; rather, the exponential explosion of the volume of images outpaces the memories which embraced them. But it is the singular moment which is remembered; its importance and relevance constitutes the uniqueness of who we are, what we strive for, and the future foundation upon which we build.

When medical conditions impact a person, the intervening event is a milestone of sorts, for those whose purpose of serious endeavors throughout a lifetime was captivated not by self-interest or preservation of ego, but because the pedestal of relevance mattered.  For Federal employee who suffers from an injury or other disabling condition, where the medical condition impacts the very foundation of a career, and therefore tears apart the fibers and filaments which bind the relevance of a lifetime of accomplishments, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the event itself — of having to acknowledge that one’s medical condition can no longer be consistently maintained and managed while working at all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal duties — often represents a fading of that singular photograph kept safe on a corner pedestal of time.

The medical condition itself is a trauma; filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management can be a further time of turmoil, precisely because it is an event of significance: of change, of foundational shattering, and an admission of mortality. Like the bygone era of the single photograph, the career which one chose when once youth beckoned with rash confidence, sits fading with time upon the acknowledgment that one’s medical condition has revealed the extent of one’s vulnerability in a world less caring than once promised.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire