Federal Employee Medical Retirement System under FERS or CSRS: The footnote

Who reads them, anymore?  Defined as an ancillary or corollary piece of information beyond that which is stated in the body of the main text, the footnote represents that which reflects an addendum and not something that is considered “required reading”, but more likely for the benefit of those who enjoy quixotic minutiae and esoteric details of irrelevant import.*  As referenced in history, one who is relegated to the afterthought failed to reach the first order of things, and their lack of relevance is reflected by banishment to the bottom of the page.

Before computers were invented, long before the notion of “cut and paste” defined the laziness of intellectual prowess, the writer had to engage in prescient forethought, and calculate by measured deliberation the space to leave, the length of the footnote, and whether there was enough white-out left in the crusted bottle to make up for any lack of proper preparation.

The pretentiousness of the pseudo-intellectual, of course, was to have footnotes of greater length than the body of the text itself, spanning multiple pages so that the reader would become confused as to what constituted relevance in contrast to signification of purpose, where some pages barely had a sentence with but a horizontal mark demarcating the onerous esoterica of erudite irrelevancy.  And the worst, of course, is when a teacher or professor would ask a test question based upon one; for, again, the common refrain was twofold:  Who reads them?  Were we required to read them?  And the scoffing retort from the test-giver — that god amongst gods who held grades, fate and future plans in the palm of a single hand: If it was in the assigned material, it was “required reading”.

Much later, of course, we came to realize that “it was really good for us to read them” (though we never really believed such inane confessions), or to our own children, “When I was your age, and computers weren’t yet invented…” (with but a reactive facial expression beyond capacity to translate).  In the end (literally and figuratively), we all realize that the footnote itself represents mere distractions upon an otherwise ordered pagination of an author’s meanderings, and for ourselves, that they reflect a metaphor of who we are.

Most of us are treated as mere footnotes, left unnoticed, disregarded except for occasional reference by accident or happenstance.  For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who has come to a point in his or her career, where a medical condition has progressed to a deteriorating consensus of requiring an alternative plan of action, being treated as a footnote within a subtext of irrelevancy amongst a sea of bureaucratic inefficiency, is likely a feeling of growing concern.

As footnotes are deliberately disregarded, so the majority of people are like those masses of addendum relegated to unnoticed details of sub-citizenship.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will often elevate one’s status and stature for a time, if only because the Agency or U.S. Postal Service is suddenly forced to read the footnote, and take notice of the subtext; but beyond that, it is the medical condition itself which relegates the Federal or Postal employee to that numbering at the bottom of the page and left to irrelevancy, precisely because you are not one of the “productive” ones.

How does one force the “outside world” to “read” you?

In the end, there is life beyond a career with the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is merely a first step in getting beyond being relegated to a mere footnote.

As with those generals who served alongside Eisenhower, Grant, Lee and forgotten Roman centurions, most of us are mere footnotes, and glad of it for the unnoticed joys we can embrace in the anonymity of our privacy, and for the Federal or Postal worker who wants to get beyond the notoriety accompanying that unwanted attention for merely having a medical condition — and thus temporarily assigned to the body of the “main text” for being a nuisance — preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with OPM is often the first step towards asserting one’s rights to getting back to the footnote of time and timelessness, where most of us want to remain, in the cocoon of irrelevancy and historical afterthoughts.



*Footnote 1:  Just to make sure; otherwise, refer to page 3,275 herein, where you will be required to obtain a special password and key in order to access a pseudo-intellectual forum of erudition within an ivory tower of confounding thoughts, for further reference to important commentaries otherwise pretentiously inserted in order to appear intelligently cogent.



Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Medical Retirement: Balance and Order in a Lost World

Once achieved, death destroys; it is the anomaly of life, that the linear progression leads toward its own terminus, and by slow and incremental degeneration, its own vivacity is defined by a sense of self-immolation.  The realization of attainment almost always occurs upon surpassing the apex of an ordering of one’s life, and so the inevitable decline necessarily diminishes any joy derived from self-reflection of having achieved that balance and order for which we strive.

We can pursue a lifetime of studying Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, and the goal to achieve eudaemonia by living a life of virtue in accordance with reason, and thus comply with the essence of who we are, what we define ourselves as, and thereby fulfilling the conceptual construct of our own inventions.  Or, we can “chuck it all” and attribute absurdity to the universe, genetic predisposition as the defining essence of our being, and justify the arbitrary course of our lives by deconstructing the classical ordering of our civilization’s teleology.

Few of us consider ourselves to be the master of our own destiny; and fewer still, of much influence in the steerage of our direction or course.  We tend to believe in the magic of, “If only…” while simultaneously ignoring our freedom from society’s constraints and liberty’s folly.  And when tragedy befalls, we blame the collective conspiracies of the gods who view us as mere playthings, fodder for unenlightened determinism no more complex than a belief in superstitions once thought lost in the antiquity of timeless reservoirs of forgotten bookshelves.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must suddenly end his or her career because of a medical condition, because the medical condition no longer allows the Federal or Postal worker to perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal worker’s position description, the loss of balance and order is not just a hypothetical paradigm, but a reality enforced by circumstances beyond one’s control.

Indeed, the “world” within which such balance and order is lost, is not attributable to some greater concept of geopolitical significance, but one which touches directly upon the ephemeral plight of the here and now.  The striving for balance and the need for order; these are fundamental constructs required to maintain sanity and joy; and when the imbalance of life combined with the disorientation tethered by an unexpected medical condition intersects upon the rhythm of daily living, the shaking up of an otherwise tranquil life can appear to be devastating.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is often the necessary step in order to maintain that balance and order forever sought, and now interrupted by the gods of chance; and while the penultimate destiny of life’s striving may now appear to have lost its rationality for direction and purpose, it is always in the striving that one finds a way, and preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application is often a means to a further end, if only to again regain a semblance of that balance and order once gained, and now temporarily lost, in a world already lost but for the insular privacy of one’s own happiness.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire