Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The last Edwardian

What does it mean to be an “Edwardian”?  The reign of Edward VII was brief, but its influence is often extended to periods both before and long after in an aggregation of understanding “trends” that were noted, and often idealized.

It is a period of little interest to most Americans, except perhaps when there is some vague reference during a period of a royal scandal or a royal wedding that somehow touches the fancy across the great ocean that divides.  And despite our English “roots”, scant attention is paid to the history of England in either schoolbooks or offered curricula, except in referring to those dastardly “redcoats” who quartered themselves uninvited and had the audacity to tax its colonies without proper representation in Parliament.  Or so the memory of one’s childhood history lessons are recalled.

That period — whether one extends it some decades before, or well into the “Roaring Twenties” — actually lasted only from 1901 – 1910, but left a romanticized memory of lazy summer days, prosperity, greater involvement of women and the “common man” into the political arena, and came to symbolize the dawn of the “modern era”.  Whether such an idealized recollection actually reflected any reality of the era is open to debate.  But, then, that is what we cling to when situations worsen, isn’t it — of an idealized “before” in contrast to the stark gloom of “after”?

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 Federal or Postal job, that desperate “clinging on” to one’s job may in part be attributable to the need to be that last Edwardian — of a “before” (before the onset of the medical condition) when life seemed more rewarding, when pain, discomfort or overwhelming anxiety was not only unthought of, but never occurred as an issue of consideration — who “after” the onset of the medical condition can now only recall the romantic period that once was.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, may not solve every problem that besets the Federal or Postal employee who can no longer consistently get to work and accomplish all that is required by the position; but it does allow the Federal or Postal employee to prioritize and focus more upon the reality of one’s current situation — one’s health — and not become entrapped in trying to be that last Edwardian.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The Trauma of Change

There is comfort and security in the monotony of routine; for many, even a slight alteration in the identity of daily action presents a threat to the coherence of a world created and maintained.  Old men and women who suffer from the destructive forces of dementia rely upon it; homes which house the aging population, abandoned by obligation and freed from trust of children now grown, lean upon the crutch of sameness, as if sanity depended upon a universe determined to defy detour of deference.

But such clinging to the security blanket of daily recurrence is not relegated to the old; for most of us, reliance upon the monotony of unchanging sameness is what provides for reliability and dependability; alteration of environment is for the youth to encounter, as excitement of differentiation can only be relished by those who can accommodate change.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who begin to suffer from a medical condition, and where the symptoms and ravages of the diagnosed medical conditions begin to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, the winds of change present a formidable challenge to one’s sense of equilibrium, perspective of stability, and calm feelings for a secure future.

Change is traumatic; and, moreover, unexpected and uninvited alteration of circumstances by force of unwanted imposition, is like being hit over the head by the proverbial hammer of life, and we kick and cry in protest as we are dragged down the avenues of change.  And, like the addict who must undergo the steps towards rehabilitation, there is a recognition of stages:  Of having a medical condition; acceptance of the medical condition; realization that the medical condition results in an unavoidable impact upon one’s Federal or Postal career; then, to undertake the pragmatic and practical steps in preparing, formulating and 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.

It is this last step which is often the most difficult — to actually take those “real life” steps in applying for OPM Disability Retirement; and why is this?  Because, so long as we only “talk about” things, there is still stability and sameness in the objective world; but once we reach out and connect “talk” with “action”, the trauma of change becomes real, and the recognition that the world we left behind as a child — of gnomes, fairies, and the knight in shining armor — were really mere pictures in a storybook stored in the lost memories of innocence and warmth of a mother’s womb.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Invasion of the Body Snatchers

The 1956 version of the film (the only one worth watching) was in black & white, and created a sensation among French Existentialists for the greatest horror committed upon a human being:  to strip one of all human emotion, and transform the person into a robotic automaton of sorts.

Camus’ novel, The Stranger, reveals a similar theme through the titular character, Meursault, where the absurdity of life, the indifference of humanity, all serve to compel him to commit a murder without reason or rationale, in a universe without emotion — until the very end when, faced with the certainty of the guillotine, he responds with rage at a chaplain who wants him to atone for his sins.

Life itself can be the slow drip-drip-drip of stripping one of emotions, somewhat like spores which fall and turn into seed pods, and slowly attaches, drains, and diminishes the uniqueness of the individual; or like the greater absurdity of performing apparently meaningless tasks, where a sense of separateness and division occurs as a chasm between worth and work, as when Sisyphus rolls the boulder up the hill, only to see it slither back down the other side.

Medical conditions sometimes awaken us from the slumber of absurdity.  It is in and of itself an anomaly of sorts, to have to face the mortality and fragility of one’s life, thereby unraveling thoughts of worthiness in a world devoid of care, empathy or concern.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, for the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker, is a step taken to climb out of that chasm or void of dissipating meaningfulness.  For, when a medical condition begins to impact one’s capacity and ability to continue bringing meaning and purposefulness to a job, within a context of an agency which shows indifference and outright animosity, it is time to escape the alien pods and devise an escape route from the invasion of the body snatchers.

It is like Sartre’s quip that Hell “is other people” — of that moment when a person looks through a keyhole and views another as a mere object, then senses someone else behind, and realizes that you were being watched watching others as an object, only to be considered as an object as well.  Similarly, when a Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service begins to treat the Federal or Postal employee as a fungible object of nominal worth, it is time to seek and monetize one’s worth at another location, another context, a different venue.

Medical conditions demean and diminish in multiple ways:  one’s own consciousness recognizes the devaluation of being “less than whole”; others begin to approach and treat with trepidation; and Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service fail to accommodate according to the laws already in place.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a means to an end.  The “means” requires an affirmative step by the Federal or Postal employee to traverse from the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service by beginning the preparation and formulation for filing of an OPM Disability Retirement application; the “exit” is the concerted effort to run afar from those spores from heaven, as the body snatchers who drain life and vitality through the keyhole of sanity where absurdity and meaning clash in a titanic battle for human worth.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Law: Avoidance

It begins with a subtle turning away, perhaps; reduction of contact, lessening of coincidental interactions, etc.  The fact is, in an office environment, or out in the proverbial “field” of employment, if a coworker or supervisor wants to get a hold of you, they normally can, and with aggressive intent, quite quickly.  But suddenly and in a spiral trajectory of avoidance, people begin to shun and shove aside.

It’s not like the medical condition is contagious, or will by some mysterious process of osmosis spread like a viral wildfire merely by standing next to you; but that is how it is perceived and attributed.  When a medical condition impacts one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, whether the person is a Federal employee or a U.S. Postal worker, the palpable sense of ostracizing begins immediately.

Loss of productivity; being placed on a PIP; developing a reputation for being on the wrong side of an agency’s favor; these are all of the ills which portend; and the greater the degree of avoidance by fellow workers, the increasing pressure of evidence to begin the process of preparing, formulating and filing for OPM Disability Retirement.  Federal Disability Retirement is a process which can take many months, and is ultimately filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

The inevitable is written in the rosters of future events; avoidance merely delays that which will come about, anyway; and procrastination exponentially compounds the cumulative problems aggregated by neglect.  Thus does avoidance work to wound, and rarely to enhance, the fragile future of the Federal or Postal employee in securing one’s financial stability, by filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire