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 Medical Retirement: Predictable Pantomimes

Most of life is simply lived.  One engages, works, plans, deliberates, initiates, completes chores, gets up in the morning, goes to bed at night, etc.  Little reflection or thought is required; much of it, like an automaton on a conveyor belt of cursory convenience, requires but mere human movement.

Perhaps in the mythological State of Nature, as described by Rousseau or Locke, the predatory environment creating a necessity of alertness just to survive, required greater cognitive involvement; or, as a corollary, an utopian condition of peace and tranquil coexistence with other forces of nature.  It is when one pauses for a brief moment, reflects, and has a sudden awareness of one’s self in the presence of others, that the very knowledge of acting within the confines and context of “doing”, becomes a consciousness of self-realization.

Self-awareness — that level of consciousness beyond mere recognition of one’s surroundings, but involving a direct acuteness of “being” but simultaneously “being in the world”, is what makes for human uniqueness.

Heidegger tried to describe it through linguistic mechanisms which turned out to be beyond the common realm of understanding or comprehension, and thus became relegated to the esoteric halls of academia.  Sartre and Camus attempted to capture it through fictional depictions, and indeed, it was more the texture of the novel, The Stranger, than the actual words, which came closest to successful conveyance of the experience of the absurd.

For the daily person, medical conditions tend to starkly bring out the reality of the experience.  Medical conditions suddenly reveal one’s vulnerability, and the fragile nature of one’s being.  Mortality becomes a reality beyond mere distance-reflection of some unknown future intent; it becomes the freshness of the now for a being within a body of decay.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who suddenly realizes that life, career, future and the boredom of constancy can be but a moment in time because of an impending medical condition which threatens one’s security and livelihood, 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, becomes a reality of immediacy, precisely because of the urgency of the medical condition upon one’s life and livelihood.

Suddenly, the priority of “being” presents itself.  What one did before the crisis of vulnerability was merely a predictable pantomime; the reality of life and the significance of relationships becomes the true being of living.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits may seem like a mere act of administrative convenience, but for many, it becomes the avenue of necessity in order to deal with the reality of illness, disability, and medical urgency.  And, as with all aspects of life and being, other predictable pantomimes will become apparent:  the agency’s hostile reaction; the looks of suspicion from others; unfriendly attitudes displayed by coworkers and supervisors; they are all merely actors on a larger stage, but yet to realize that “being” and “being-in-the-world” are one and the same, when tragedies befall and humanity acknowledges the fragile nature of life, like the soft petal from a dying flower which drifts soundlessly upon the earthen dust from which we were born, and to which we return.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire