Federal Disability Retirement Benefits: Shame

Anthropological commentators have variously pointed out that the human being is the only one of the social animals to exhibit the characteristic of shame, and then quip with a spirit of mocking sharpness, “and the only ones who have a need to be”.  But the problem of shame is that the responsiveness exhibiting that overwhelming sense of self-immolation is often misdirected. Shame, or being ashamed, can occur resulting from the collective behavior of others, where a majority opinion can persuade through ostracizing, manifesting group hostility, or through persistent hammering.  It can even be through the misinterpretation of the normative behavior and conduct of acceptable societal customs and social rules of engagement.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, such a misdirected response is often seen when a medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.  For the Federal or Postal employee who feels such “shame”, there is often a dual track of thought-processing:  A.  The Federal or Postal employee is unable to do all of the positional duties assigned and expected, and as a result, one feels “shame” for that lack and growing inability, and B. the medical condition itself makes one “ashamed” because it constitutes a reduction of the whole person, and the societal stares and hushed whispers reinforce one’s self-image that, somehow, one is “less” than the aggregate shown by the collective others.  And there is often a third, where:  C.  As work has become the source and sole reservoir of one’s sense of worth and accomplishment, so the potential loss of it results in a growing sense of shame, embarrassment and self-hatred.

Indeed, the loss, or the potential loss, of one’s identity at the workplace is a profoundly devastating undermining of one’s own self image.  But that is where the misinterpretation of values originates; for, by placing so much emphasis upon the goal of a herd’s collective mission, one fails to properly prioritize an individual’s sense of self-worth.  Health, and the need to recognize one’s place within the greater context of society, must always be taken as the priority of life’s misgivings.

For the Federal or Postal worker who has misinterpreted the importance of work over health and family, preparing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often a difficult trial to undertake.  But it must be so, and recognition that compassion is the antidote to the false sense of shame experienced when the fate of a medical condition begins to deteriorate one’s health, capabilities and ability to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, is to merely be human, and it is not even erring which acknowledges such humanity, but a condition of life which is neither the fault of the Federal or Postal employee, nor within the control of the future, but within the soft breath of the gods who smile upon the infirm with love and empathy — those true attributes of heavenly concerns.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: A Wrong Sense of Shame

Having a sense of shame can reveal a heightened level of moral superiority; but as with all things emanating from the Good, those who lack a sensitivity to propriety will take full advantage of a misguided loyalty to ethical conduct.  Work and a duty to one’s vocation is a guiding principle for most Federal and Postal employees.  That is precisely why filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, is anathema to the Federal and Postal employee.

The committed Federal and Postal employee often has a warped and misguided sense of his ethical duty to work, and will allow for a medical condition to continue to exacerbate and debilitate, at the expense of one’s deteriorating health, all for the sake of commitment, devotion, and high ethical sense of duty to one’s mission for the agency.

Supervisors and managers recognize this, and take full advantage. But the Federal and Postal employee must by necessity understand that Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit accorded to all Federal and Postal employees precisely for the underlying reasons offered: When a medical condition impacts one’s health such that one can no longer perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement is meant to be accessed precisely because it has always been part of the benefits package for all Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS or CSRS.

Commitment to a mission is indeed commendable; blind devotion at the expense of one’s own health is somewhat less so — unless one counts the sneering approval of agencies who see such sacrifices as mere paths to the slaughterhouse.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Misplaced Guilt & Apologetic Defeatism

There is, of course, such an animal as ‘misplaced guilt‘; it is in consequence of attributing to the wrong object of remorse a sense of honor or fidelity; and the resulting behavior of such inappropriate placement is often actions of an apologetic nature, self-defeating attitude, or an admixture of both.  Such a chemistry of discord can have subtle, unintended (or was it subconsciously intended?) and negative results for the Federal Employee or U.S. Postal Worker who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

In life, it is often the simple and direct approach which prevails; those who are unaware of their surroundings and forge ahead without sensitivity to others, often accomplish much; and while unfortunate, it is those very people who act with empathetic restraint and in consideration for others, who often get left behind.  And so it is with filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with OPM —  that the person who hesitates and apologetically formulates one’s Statement of Disability (as responsive to Standard Form 3112A), will subconsciously desire a denial.

Statements of disability made with hesitancy; with a sense of apology or remorse; of guilt for even applying for the benefit; all such mind-sets manifest themselves in the narrative of one’s disability.  Yet, it is a misplaced guilt.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit which is part of the Federal employee’s compensation package, and it is there precisely to allow for the Federal or Postal employee to recuperate, acquire a certain standard of financial security, and perhaps provide an opportunity for a second chance at another productive vocation.  There is no room for misplaced guilt, and certainly no place for an apologetic defeatism in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; for, in a flash, they will jump upon such an approach and take advantage of such misplaced vulnerabilities.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Alternatives and the Sense of Guilt

In the course of speaking with thousands of Federal and Postal employees over the years, with those who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, both under FERS & CSRS, two prevailing themes often overshadow the discourse:  the sense that there are few alternatives left because of the impact of one’s medical condition upon one’s ability/inability to continue to pursue the intended career-course of one’s life; and secondly, a sense of guilt (or sometimes interpreted as shame) that such a course of action triggers.

The former response (that there are limited alternatives remaining) can often be resolved by a change of perspective:  To accept one’s medical condition, while difficult, is a reality which must be embraced, and in doing so, to be open to a change in vocation and previously-set view of where one wants to go in life.

The latter — of having a sense of guilt or shame for considering the course of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits — is often a result of misunderstanding the option of Federal Disability Retirement.  For, Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS is merely part of one’s compensation package which one signed onto when you became a Federal or Postal employee.  It is not an acceptance of defeat; it is not a resignation from one’s goals; rather, it is an avenue to embrace a course of rehabilitative stage of life in order to be able to recover sufficiently to pursue a different vocation and a different course of action in one’s life.

To remain steadfast and have a sense of fidelity is indeed an honorable thing; but to remain steadfast on a train bound for disaster, is merely a stubborn trait of foolhardiness.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: The Price One Pays

One hears the familiar refrain:  trying to “game” the system; taking handouts; being on the government’s dole; and multiple similar allegations and assumptions.  Perhaps there are some who receive benefits which may be considered welfare-type compensation; and, maybe there are those who attempt to obtain something for nothing — or very little.  But one must be firm in making the conceptual distinction between those “others” and Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

First, the Federal and Postal employee works — and works hard and long hours.  Second, Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit which is part of the total compensation package for the Federal or Postal employee.  Third, Federal Disability Retirement pays a pittance in comparison with the compensatory standard of living which the Federal or Postal employee has been used to, and no sane person would take a voluntary reduction of one’s livelihood merely to get on the “dole”.  Fourth, many — if not most — of those who receive Federal Disability Retirement benefits pay back into the system, by getting a part-time or full-time job in another vocation, thereby paying taxes, FICA, etc.  And Fifth, it is the Federal Disability Retirement annuitant who is the one who pays the price — by having endured the repetitive work to such an extent that he or she has become debilitated; or withstood the abusive mental and physical requirements of one’s position which ultimately necessitated the drastic reduction in pay and forced to take a Federal Disability Retirement annuity.

It is the one who must pay the price — the Federal and Postal employee — who should be complaining; those who stand on the sidelines merely utter words.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: No Need for an Apology

Federal Disability Retirement benefits exist for Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS or CSRS, for two primary purposes:  (A)  to allow a Federal or Postal employee who has a medical condition which prevents him or her from performing all of the essential elements of his or her job, to receive an annuity because of one’s service to the Federal Sector, based upon minimum qualification criteria (18 months of Federal Service under FERS; 5 years under CSRS) and (B) to encourage that Federal or Postal employee to continue to contribute in the private sector, but working at some other job, and begin a “second” career, if possible.  

It is not an entitlement; it is a benefit which is progressive in the sense that it recognizes a compassionate need to compensate in return for the many years that the Federal or Postal employee has contributed to the work force, as well as recognizing the intelligent paradigm of encouraging continuing contribution in a different career path.  Most Federal and Postal employees do not “want” to file for, or become eligible to receive, Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  

It is not a “choice”.  Rather, most Federal and Postal employees, after many, many years of service, have come to a point of recognition in both the extent, severity and chronicity of their medical conditions, as well as the progressively deteriorating impact upon his or her ability to perform all of the essential elements of the job, that continuing in the same daily struggle with life is inconsistent with retention and continuation in the Federal Service.  

It is a benefit which is part of the total compensation package that one signed onto when one became a Federal or Postal employee.  No apologies are needed to file for the medical benefit; it is merely the consummation of a contract, agreed to and signed for at the beginning of one’s career.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire