Filing for OPM Disability Retirement: The image we cling to

Whether of a “bad boy”, a “choir boy” and some other like, “He is such a quite, obedient and unassuming young lad,” or even, “She is a real go-getter” — whatever the image created, whether by our own manufacturing or by the reputation pasted upon by others, the image we cling to can remain with us such that it haunts and trails like the residue of those ghosts of Christmas past.

Are reputations and images one and the same?

They certainly cross over from border and fence to similar lines of demarcation, such that the jumble of what others say, think and believe about you are an admixture of one’s self-image, the reflection of how we think about ourselves and what we believe others believe about ourselves.  Changing the image we cling to is often difficult; believing in the change, nigh impossible and rarely achieved.

Whether from the incremental and sometimes insidious perpetuation from the subconscious destructiveness haunting one from a childhood past, or of reinforced negativity from bad parenting or abusive relatives, an image is a residue of a tapestry complicated by those unknown circuitry making up what is generically identified as one’s inner “conscious” life.

It is, as some philosophers would put it, the “ghost in the machine” — of that something “other” that eerily floats about above and beyond the collection of cells, genetic matter and neurotransmitters.  It is “who we are”, or more aptly, “who we think we are”.

For Federal and Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the image we cling to is often the one that prevents us from doing that which is best for ourselves.

We think of ourselves as hard-working, conscientious, never-a-slacker, and conflate that self-image with performance ratings, step-increases, promotions and awards, and it is that compendium of reputation-to-self-image that marks our downfall when a medical condition hits the brick wall of reality.

What are our priorities?  Do we cling to the images manufacture, at all costs — even to our own detriment?

Preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a silent admission that the image we cling to may not be the reality one hoped for; but to live in an alternative reality when one’s health is at stake, is to ignore the obvious, and to fall prey to the destructive tendencies of an uncaring world.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is not to destroy the image of ourselves that we cling to; rather, it is merely a recognition that we, too, are human and imperfect, and it is the shedding of perfection that is often the greatest problem we face.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Hesitant Hole

The famous one, of course, and the one which draws the imagination, is depicted in Lewis Carroll’s tale of Alice and her journey down the rabbit’s abyss; another, the one which determines the relative shortcomings of weather predictability, but that one is guided more by shadows and perceptions from above, as opposed to the one dug below; or, there is the one which we dig for ourselves, and the proverbial timelessness of our foolish deeds.

Of the first, we remember the endless stretch of our imaginations which is expanded by the creativity of the author and the world of fantasy; the second, the reality of the dread we feel for the weather, the cold and the shortened days of winter when we yearn for the coming lull of summer warmth; and of the latter, it reminds us that the consequences of our own misdeeds continue to haunt us despite trepidation and timidity.

Do holes have a character?  Are some holes dug with delight?  Like deep caverns reaching beneath sandcastles on dreamy days of childhood laughter echoing against the wind and waves of salted air; or of the deep crevices and potholes in roads of concrete and steel, when the shifting tectonic forces of nature collide with man’s attempt to construct artificial barriers against timeless changes of fortitude and fear; and the one’s we claw at.

The large ones created by bulldozers and other machines, do they not unravel the once-concealed arrogance of man?  And the careful pawing of the delicate hand in the timeless sand, where castles crumble with trepidations of joy?  But it is the grownup’s attempts at escape, of creating a hiding place where adulthood no longer allows for Alice’s wanderings into a virtual world of imagination and creative loss, and the dread of reality bearing upon the fearful universe we cannot understand, fail to navigate and refuse to negotiate.

The world is indeed a fearful place, and we wish there would always be a rabbit hole to fall into, if only to escape the harshness of our own misgivings.  But beyond that hole into which we inadvertently fall, it is the one’s we dig for ourselves — hesitantly — which create the greatest of calamities.  For, when we do it with trepidation and fear, it is the slow and incremental depth and vastness of it which escapes our immediate attention.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties with the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, it is that hesitation which continues to create the deepened caverns of choices for future security and certainty.

Filing 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, is always a difficult decision to make; indeed, filing for OPM medical retirement means that a change is forthcoming, both in career and in finances.  But because the entire administrative process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is a long and arduous road to take, it is the hesitant hole which we dig by procrastinating, delaying and obfuscating that often makes for that seemingly endless fall from grace which Alice kept wondering about; but for her, at least she knew that the hole she fell into was the creation of the rabbit she pursued, and not the hesitant hole of one’s own making into which we cannot dig ourselves out from.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire