OPM Disability Retirement: Escaping the Feudal Paradigm

Anachronisms rarely die a sudden death; instead, they fade over time, with vestiges and residual skeletons of facades and structures remaining stubbornly in place for decades, and sometimes centuries.  The system of vassals paying homage and fealty to those who are anointed and favored, has been a longstanding feudal system ensuring loyalty and fidelity to particular fiefdoms and individuals; for, as the consecrated individuals are provided with special privileges, including use of prime land, serfs and servants, so the unwavering allegiance to a lord is established in bonds of sequestered servitude.

Federal and Postal Workers are intimately familiar with this feudal system of fealty; they witness it in qualitative and quantitative instances throughout agencies, departments and post offices.

The rules of servitude closely parallel the bonds of loyalty; the consecrated and anointed are allowed the use of royal carriages, even, and minor violations of protocol are overlooked for those whose favor has been curried and fostered, while a technical infraction by he who stands outside of the legion of sycophants faces a deluge of sanctions, including warnings, reprimands, suspensions and the ultimate hanging by the hooded element: termination.  But as all Federal and Postal employees know and understand, loyalty is a unilateral function; it is never bilateral. One’s relevance extends only so far as usefulness to the anointed one; and once such usefulness is extinguished, so one’s relevance diminishes.

There is no debate between substance and appearance in a philosophical sense; appearance always wins out. And, of course, as empathy for the human condition can find no room in the evolutionary process of survivability, so the vestiges of a feudal system of fealty exists well beyond its existential relevance or functional import.  For the Federal or Postal employee who begins to suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the problem of usefulness, loss of position and status as “one of the anointed” (if one ever even enjoyed that level of stature), and relevance to one’s agency or department, becomes a pragmatic problem of stark existential reality.

Fortunately, the gods of caring provided for a more modern, non-feudal mechanism to escape the brutal residue of the feudal system, by allowing for the administrative option of Federal Disability Retirement benefits, filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS.  It allows one to sever the tentacles which place a stranglehold upon Federal and Postal employees who are mistreated for circumstances beyond one’s control.

Yes, it is true that vestiges of old systems fade slowly; but in the end, the inexorable march of progress will hopefully win out, and for the Federal or Postal employee who needs to escape the lords of fate, Federal Disability Retirement is an option to consider.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: An Altered Life of Habituation

Loss of stature and status can come in many forms; we think too often in terms of financial status, of material belongings, where we live, with whom we associate, and the subtle evaluation of social consciousness in relation to our neighbors, friends and family.  But as work constitutes a majority of the time we expend, we often fail to understand the profound impact that we subconsciously place upon the status and standing we perceive within the employment arena.  This is closely related to the conceptual viability of bifurcating our “time at work” and “closing the door behind us” when we exit our place of employment, get into the car, and begin the commute home.

More and more, of course, the traditional dichotomy between work and personal life has been destroyed with the intrusive nature of email, smart phones, laptops and the constant need to keep in communication via electronic media.  The sanctity of the home life is deteriorating; weekends are merely interludes of a slower pace of work; and Sundays are rarely categorized as days of unreachable separateness.

With all traditional social and employment walls disintegrated, it becomes all the more profoundly insidious when one’s employment is severely impacted by a medical condition.

For Federal and Postal employees who must consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the change from the status of “Federal employee” or “Postal Worker” to one of “Disability annuitant” can have a devastating psychological impact. For, in the end, it is not merely a change of status and stature; it is a profound alteration of a way of life, arrived at through habituation without thought, mindlessly embracing the insidiousness of technological intrusions which we never asked for and rarely sought.

The negative view for the Federal and Postal Worker is to myopically observe this profound change in sadness; the positive outlook is to have a fresh perspective, and to actually take the opportunity to use the time for rehabilitation of one’s health, perhaps just to be able to — for a brief moment in the history of one’s life — stop and smell the proverbial flower on the way out of the office door.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Suburban Sketches

Within the past 2 weeks:  a rabbit’s nest is discovered in the back yard; then, in the early morning dawn of the next morning, that same discovery is met with a predator whose presence is feared only in the limited universe of suburbia — the neighborhood cat.  Laying with a sense of indifference and aplomb, the cat is quickly shooed away, hoping against any glimmer of hope. Sure enough, the heads of the two young bunnies had been eaten.

And the second wildlife sketch (well, not quite, inasmuch as a backyard in suburbia hardly constitutes the wilds of woodland forests):  attending to some chores, a baby squirrel walks without thought or suspicion right up to this human; a moment later, the mother prances frantically, and in the quiet language known only to animals, directs the young prey back to the safety of trees and branches.

Humans are merely a species within the greater genus of animals, and yet we tend to forget that.  It is, of course, at our own peril that we forget the obvious.

For Federal and Postal Workers who encounter and engage the carnivorous power of an agency, the bureaucracy of destruction can quickly stamp out the youthful naiveté which the Federal or Postal Worker may exhibit.  Perhaps it is like the bunnies:  As long as one stays in the metaphorical nest of one’s own making, safety will be assured.  Or, like the baby squirrel:  Be open, and no harm will result.

Whatever the consequences of youthful exuberance, the difference is at least this:  For human, most mistakes based upon a reliance of trust do not end in terminal consequences; whereas, in the wild, a singular mistake can result in death.  Trust in one’s fellow man is a reflection of two sides of a single coin:  the one side, revealing moral character; on the other, naiveté.

When a medical condition impacts the Federal or Postal employee, and consideration is given as to 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, the query is often made as to how much trust should be granted or information should be revealed, and at what stage of the process, to the carnivorous animal known as “the agency”.

One should be able to glean the opinion of the undersigned as to the answer to that question, by the very nature of these sketches.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: To Be a Squirrel, for a Day

Watching them is an exercise of fascination; with nimble flight, to jump from a rooftop to the tip of a branch 10 feet away; scurry up and down trees with little thought (or is that merely a human projection without justification?) and no hesitation between the daredevil act and the graceful landing; and then to sunbathe in the midday warmth on a protruding ledge of the fence.

What a carefree existence; or so it would seem.  For, upon an extended observation, one realizes that there is never a moment when the squirrel is unaware of its surroundings, and that the anxiety-filled existence of human beings is not too different from that of the animal kingdom from which we conceptually separate ourselves, but of which reality forces a recognition of kinship.

One wonders how the ordinary individual can survive the daily stresses of life; but in turning to an uncomplicated animal such as a squirrel, you quickly realize that we are created as a bundle of stress-resistance nerves.  For the squirrel, the probability of a predator ready to pounce requires a heightened spectrum of awareness that approaches constant vigilance.  For the individual human being, the technological, artificial, but nevertheless just-as-real “stressors” of stimuli which require minute-by-minute responses, are readily received by the evolutionary adaptation first developed in the dangers of wildlife.

Thus, it is little wonder that when a medical condition hits an individual, the quickened pace of deterioration and progressive chronicity of the condition turns to debilitating impact.  By then, the stress-overload has reached its maximum impact.

For the Federal and Postal employee who is beset with a medical condition such that one must contemplate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the time between the onset of the medical condition and the need to file is often short.  This should not be surprising, given that the Federal and Postal employee has often ignored or otherwise overcompensated for the warning signs of impending consequences.

OPM Disability Retirement can take some time to obtain.  Whether under FERS or CSRS, every Federal Disability Retirement application must be filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and the waiting time tends to be arbitrary, but in each case, somewhat lengthy.  Given that, once the crisis point of “needing” to file has been identified, it is important to take the next giant step and initiate the process.

And, like the squirrel of whom we imagine is merely frolicking in the sun, the lack of outward appearance of a need is never the true indicator of what is going on underneath.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: The Watchmaker

Artisans are scarce in existence, these days.  With the constant drone for the economic push for profits, and the incessant pressures of everyday expenses, the village watchmaker, the goldsmith who personally fashions the engagement rings for the couple whom he saw just a moment ago playing outside his shop window as two children lost in the world of make-believe; that is a world we once read about, perhaps in a Dickens novel, of characters out of an era long lost and forgotten.

But the remnants of the characteristics evidencing quality and craftsmanship must survive, lest perfection be lost as a goal and exactitude no longer an achievement worth applauding.  Of course, there will always be cheap replicas; of digital watches manufactured en masse in factories where labor is inexpensive and the worth of human creativity barely given a moment’s glance.  That is why, when one comes upon a true craftsman, observing the care and skill being put into creating a product of worth is indeed something to behold.

And so it is in every endeavor.

For the Federal and Postal employee who must find, of necessity, that filing for Federal Disability Retirement can no longer be put off, it is well to heed the warnings of those predecessors who have experienced the nightmarish administrative procedures required in attaining the benefit.  While it need not take an artisan to put together an effective case, the approach one embraces should include the characteristics of that unique watchmaker:  care in the details; slowly building from a solid foundation; bringing together all of the variegated “parts”, including the medical documentation, legal arguments, effective factual statements, etc.

The Federal and Postal employee, whether under FERS or CSRS, needs to look at the process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits as not only the presentation of the case, but the lasting impact of the finished product.  For, in the end, the true artisan creates not only a timepiece, but a timeless piece of work which should last well into a bright future.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: Miracles, Superheroes, and CGI

The reality of this technology-driven world is that miracles are now relegated to excused absences; modern theology has either explained away biblical references to the miraculous, or we attribute the beauty around us as the “miracle of life”, thereby undermining the common understanding of metaphysical intervention.

Further, the sudden advent of superheroes and their feats of bravery and physical actions which defy the general laws of nature, reveal to us that miracles and miraculous acts can be performed by humans of a similar origin but of a higher order.  Spiderman, Superman, Captain America, et al, seemingly do with ease what Moses asked but only through obedience and a lifetime of virtue.

Computer-generated imagery (CGI) has merely perfected and made beautiful such acts of death-defying, counterintuitive and anti-gravity gymnastics; and the pulley-strings and cables no longer need to be manually erased.  Such super-human feats as represented in virtual reality counter the mundane reality of true human existence.  Yes, yes — perhaps it is all “just for fun” and we shouldn’t take ourselves so seriously.  But societal representation of who we are is indeed a serious matter.

The reality of life is that human frailty, misfortune and pain pervades the vast majority of everyday existence.  Just ask the individual who suffers from a medical condition, and the daily encounter with pain and progressively debilitating illnesses.

For the Federal and Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition such that the condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the daily absence of miracles and gravity-defying feats is superseded by just getting through the day.  No CGI imposition can change the pain; superheroes cannot come to save the day; the modern theological explanations cannot expunge the reality of daily encounters with a cruel world.

In the end, the Federal and Postal employee has the option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and through this administrative vehicle of attaining a different and new stage of life, the reality of what is available can attenuate the expectations driven by the brave but virtual New World as presented by the moguls of Hollywood.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Effective Negations

Why is it that some words are known primarily by their negation?  For example, we use the word “unfettered” to convey the meaning of freedom and release, but rarely see the usage of its non-negative form, as in, “He is fettered”.  Perhaps it is because we no longer approve of placing chains or manacles upon prisoners, and instead have become more civilized, with a concurrent alteration in the usage of the term for more genteel societies.

Often, it is the very negation of X — whether through minimization or leaving out completely that which we originally thought to be so indispensable — which makes for the effective case.  Thus, in a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the problem is normally not one of what to write about or how much to submit; rather, it is the editing process and the paring down and streamlining of a case which is the hard part.

Most people who suffer from a medical condition which has come to a crisis point where it prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, are not at a loss for words or volumes of documents ready to submit.  But not everything which is material to a case is relevant, and in order to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is always best to streamline on the basis of relevance per statutory criteria.

Thus, we come full circle:  negation of a concept is often the most effective avenue of discourse; the un-negated bundle, left alone, may include too much baggage for the untrained eye.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: The Threatened Order

One’s orderliness of life is dependent upon the next person; and like the proverbial domino which stands precariously wedged between the one previous and the one subsequent, the universe of stability is dependent upon the static nature of the surrounding environment.

Thus, in the antiseptic neighborhoods around the country, the quietude of the next door neighbor ensures the peacefulness of one’s heart.  If a violent eruption or turmoil occurs next door, and the flashing lights of law enforcement blink through the closed blinds and curtains of your house, you feel violated.

The principle has been tested and verified, that one’s own order in a physical, as well as psychological sense, is only as secure or vulnerable as that maintained by the next person.  For, we do not view ourselves; we view the world around us, and especially our peers, neighbors, coworkers and extended families, and it is by judging the stability of our surrounding environment by which we determine the security of our own lives.  That is why when a person becomes disabled, it threatens the relative peace and security of supervisors and coworkers within the agency, and they react accordingly.

In advising Federal and Postal Workers throughout the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CRS, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the question which is often asked is the timing of when to inform one’s Supervisor as to the intent to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Unless there is a compelling reason to do so, the time to inform should normally coincide with the actual event of filing, unless there is a valid reason to preemptively inform the agency.

The reaction of an agency is rarely different is substance from one’s neighbor or relative; the disruption of one’s antiseptic and ordered life is seen when a blemish occurs upon the landscape of a cosmetically airbrushed photograph.  When a slight rumble is heard, one looks immediately to the domino standing to the fore and the aft, in the known language of shipmates drifting rudderless in the vast sea of our own making.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: When the Violin Stops Playing

Self-flagellation is an activity which we all engage in; for, there is always a discovered virtue in being a depicted character worthy of empathy and kind concern.  In movies, television, and in the imaginative creativity stirred in one’s mind through effective novels and novellas, such a character may evoke a background music filled with the mournful sound of a solo violin.

In real life, however, the harshness of quietude lacking in any musical repertoire leaves only the silence of reality in a scene of perpetual encounters with a negation of rectitude; the fact is, music soothes the soul, and enhances the scenes we create, but in real life, the world around us imposes its reality over which we have very little control, for the most part, in directing either the factual circumstances or the orchestra in the background.

For the Federal or Postal Worker who is suffering from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the reality of the impact of one’s medical condition is something which was never requested, never created, nor likely anticipated.

It is simply an “is” which must be dealt with, as in most unexpected encounters with modern life.  There is no background music, no violin repertoire to soothe the feelings of the Federal or Postal Worker; only hard choices to make.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal Worker is under FERS or CSRS, and so long as the Federal or Postal Worker has a minimum of 18 months of creditable service, such an option may be a viable one to attain.

As for the mournful sound of a solo violin, it plays only to those who become lost in a world of make-believe; but when the scene ends, we are left with the quiescence of the harsh reality which surrounds us.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire