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

 

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: The Hearty Laughter

Laughter is therapeutic; it is an expression, often spontaneous, responding to an event, a circumstance, a joke; sometimes, merely upon meeting an old friend and becoming flooded with reminiscences of mirthful times long ago.

It is a response of physical, emotional and mental totality; the body reverberates with joy and the echoes emanating from deep within; the flood of emotions are released; the mind becomes relaxed and unguarded.  Often, however, it is the eyes which are most telling.  Listen to a person laughing, and you may be fooled; watch a person’s eyes as he laughs, and it may reveal a dissonance which contradicts and raises suspicions.  For, laughter can also be the veil which attempts to conceal.

Similarly, in this economy of heartless efficiency, the Federal and Postal worker who must daily attempt to work through one’s pain or psychiatric condition in order to continue to work, despite suffering from a medical condition such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, there comes a point where the capacity to present one’s self contradicts the reality of what is actually occurring.

Most Federal and Postal workers are such dedicated workers that they continue to work through a progressively deteriorating medical condition to one’s ultimate detriment.  At some point, the dissonance and contradiction will reveal itself; and it is at such a crisis point when the Federal and Postal Worker comes to realize that Federal Disability Retirement benefits, filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, must be considered.

Whether one should wait until that flashpoint arrives is an individual matter.  But like the hearty laughter emanating from the deep chasms of a person whose eyes reveal pain and sadness, the Federal or Postal Worker who continues to put on a brave face each day, knows that as all the world is a stage, the actors must one day face the reality of the world in which we live.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Existence and Being

There is a distinction between existence and being; for the former is something which merely “is”, and over which one has no control over, or the capacity of which to have any input; while the latter is the composite of the essence of who we are — the coalescence of one’s past, present, and future potentiality.

Heidegger’s life work encompassed the attempt to describe the search for being, the revelatory recognition of it, and the systematic approach to unravelling the hidden fullness of being.  It is the difference between going through the motions, and living an authentic life.

That is how Federal and Postal employees often feel just before contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS — for the state of merely existing in order to trudge to work, in order to “get through the day”, only to return home, to sleep, to struggle, to regain one’s strength, energy and stamina for a reserve to be depleted for another day of work; such a process describes an existence, not a state of being.

That is also why scams and “get-rich-quick” schemes continue to successfully con so many — because most people consider themselves merely in a state of existence, waiting to be saved for a life of being, but mistake the conversion from the former to the latter as dependent and reliant upon more money, greater acquisition of wealth, and accumulation of property.  But it is good health and the ability to be pain-free, which forms the foundation for a true state of being.

Disability Retirement for the Federal or Postal Worker is a means of attaining a state of being where rehabilitation and escape from the treadmill of progressive deterioration is possible.  That bifurcation which Heidegger attempted to describe — between a state of mere existence, and the lifting of the veil upon Being — should be seriously considered.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Life After

At first, it begins with survival for another day; then, upon a realization that “another day” will merely bring forth a multitude of subsequent such days, the goalposts are moved to allow for several months.  Once the realization hits you that the medical condition will not merely subside or disappear, and continuation in a present mode of existence is simply not a feasible option, then the perspective as to one’s career must by necessity change.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, finally becomes an option.

Thereafter, the goal is to outlast the waiting line at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — to get through the First Stage of the process, and if necessary (and a denial is obtained instead of the approval at the initial stage), the second, Reconsideration Stage.  There are multiple stages beyond the administrative stages, of course, but whatever are the administrative and bureaucratic procedures which must be undergone, the goal is to get the approval letter from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

And what happens when that goal is achieved?

One finally recognizes that all such goals were merely intermediate in nature, and it is at that point that one realizes that, upon an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the true goal is to live one’s life after separation from the Federal agency — separation in an administrative sense, certainly, but more importantly, in terms of time and medical recuperation.

Health, some financial security; a peace of mind; and a time of recuperative peace; there is indeed a life after.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: The Right Time (Part 2)

How to determine when is the “right” time to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS, and when is the right time — those are issues which are quite personal and peculiar to each individual case.  Unfortunately, it is the very inherent nature of medical conditions, medical disabilities, and the chronic & debilitating symptoms that accompany such conditions, combined with the strong sense of loyalty, commitment to duty, and the desire to continue to believe that a Federal or Postal worker will overcome the current condition of disability — that often prevents a person to come to the critical point of determining the “right time”.  And, to put it in its proper perspective, this is probably a good thing, insofar as being a reflection upon the character of most individuals. 

Most individuals have a strong sense of commitment and hard work, and most want to continue to believe that one’s condition of medical disability is merely a temporary state of affairs.  But when such loyalty and commitment comes at the price of one’s personal detriment, it becomes a negative thing.  The problem comes when all of the objective indicators are ignored — when sick and annual leave are being depleted; when excessive LWOP is taken; when performance at work clearly suffers; when each night and weekend are used to recuperate from the day’s work; when savings become depleted; when a sense of desperation sets in.  Then, when it comes time to make the decision, it becomes an emergency. At that point, while it is not too late to begin the process, it is probably less than the “right time” to have started the process.  While better late than never, it is a good thing to take affirmative control of one’s future, and not let events control it uncontrollably.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire