Disability Retirement under FERS & CSRS: The Kokeshi doll

They are wooden dolls that are colorful, with expressions painted upon that remain frozen except for the change that naturally occurs when viewed from differing angles of sight, reflecting altered perspectives and modified vantage points depending upon one’s own emotions.  They sit on tabletops, shelves and can be a child’s playmate, though parents often view them more valuably as display items rather than taking the chance that the little brother may play them as reenactments of a prior war imagined to be fought by banging pieces of wood and throwing them against the yet-undamaged wall.

The heads are often disproportionately larger than the remainder of the body; and the rest and remainder, often just a block of smoothed wood with hands painted in a one-dimensional pattern, revealing no motion but straddling limply alongside the rectangular shape, like a submissive figure shuffling down life’s difficult trials in the daily struggles we all face.

The Kokeshi doll never complains, but always delights; never talks back, but eternally agrees; and never fails to bring light into a dark corner, but forever allows for a reminder that it is the trivial joys of life that make for worthwhile endurance in times of misgivings.  We are all, in many ways, expected to be like these inanimate objects that we have projected our own emotional well-being upon.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal employee’s job, the fact that you are no longer able to remain impassive, implacable, disaffected and unmoved by the manner in which the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service has begun to treat you, is not an extraordinary insight to possess and be suddenly enlightened by.

Though we may enjoy the delightful colorfulness of a Kokeshi doll, we cannot expect to be nor act like one.  It was always the productivity released, the competence revealed and the level of contribution inputted that made the Federal or Postal employee “valuable” to a Federal agency or a Postal facility; but when a medical condition hits a person, it is simply “not right” that the Federal agency or U.S. Postal Service should treat the Federal or Postal employee as merely another Kokeshi doll who should remain quiet and unperturbed standing in a corner.

Thus, when the Federal agency or Postal facility fails to treat the Federal or Postal employee as something more than the inanimate object a Kokeshi doll ultimately is, it may be time to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, before that rough-and-tumble younger brother comes along and really begins to mistreat that block of wood.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Government Employment: Life’s Joke

The funniest line in literature comes from Carl Sandburg’s “Potato Face Blind Man” stories, where he describes the reason for the wooden mug:  “There is a hole in the bottom of it.  The hole is as big as the bottom.  The nickel goes in and comes out again.  It is for the very poor people who wish to give me a nickel and yet get the nickel back.”

Satire has often been overly-discussed, and attempting to explain why a particular scene, line or story is amusing, is somewhat like trying to explain to a Martian why Bradbury’s chronicles fascinated the young:  it just is, and either you get it, or you don’t.  It is, perhaps, the incongruence between expectation and reality; of a projection of incommensurability that occurs when a portrayal doesn’t quite meet the anticipation of “should”.

In Sandburg’s description, two such anomalies occur:  First, that the figure who holds the mug does so with the expectation that passersby will drop a nickel out of a sense of pity; but second, and poignantly portrayed, that the tables are turned around by the one who allegedly is begging for the nickel, in that he recognizes the empathetic component that there are others who are poorer in the world who also want to give, but needs the nickel more than the beggar to whom it is given.  Thus, the hole on the bottom where the nickel given drops back for the giver, yet the act of giving has been consummated.

Of course, in modernity, perhaps such innocence of satiric portrayal is no longer thought to contain humor; that, as the ethics of inequality and financial disparity have given rise to resentment, and the inane concept of “fairness” today pervades the political spectrum throughout, the focus would be upon the fact of maliciously describing a person with a disability in terms which might betray mocking jest.  But that is clearly not what Sandburg meant by it; and, indeed, it was because he believed that his generation lacked children’s stories which taught lessons of virtue and behavioral uprightness, that he engaged the literary device of satire.

Life itself is difficult enough without undermining the joy of a joke recognized.  A funny line, a witty scene, a belly-laugh from a picture of incongruence; such moments allow for innocence and the lightness of being to prevail as an interlude to an otherwise dreary continuum of surviving in a world which shows but cold shoulders twisted and followed by phony smiles to cut the throats of back-turned bystanders.

Such experiences, of course, are not new to the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who suffers through the meanness of workplace hostility and harassment at the hands of supervisors and coworkers, merely because a medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of his or her positional duties.  Whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, there comes a time when the Federal or Postal worker must decide to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in order to escape the diatribes of the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

Carl Sandburg’s joke was of a time when true empathy was understood by all; unfortunately, in modernity, the nickel which was meant to be returned to the giving passerby, would today be snatched up by wolves in waiting, where the lambs who once roamed the hillside of life’s joke no longer gather upon the pastures of a forgotten innocence forever lost.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Service: Profiles in Discourage

It is, of course, an obvious play off of the 1957 Pulitzer Prize winning work (publication date of 1955), describing 8 U.S. Senators who displayed courage in the face of criticism (an inherent oxymoron?).  Whether or not, and to what extent, Kennedy himself wrote the work (Ted Sorenson, John F.’s speechwriter, finally conceded in his 2008 autobiography as much) has become historically irrelevant, for the legend has become the man, and has replaced the truth of clear lines that once constituted the demarcation between fantasy and reality.

Ancient references to “Camelot” and metaphors about some obscure “torch” being passed through a generational transfer of linguistic fluff, have all cumulatively obscured the stark nakedness of that which makes people and events accountable.  The irony of real life always goes well beyond any fictional attempt to deceive; at least, by designation ascribed, we know what to expect of the latter; but then, there wouldn’t be anything like irony without the absurdity of the former.

Look at the recent allegations of the murky money-trail from Malaysia as the source of funding for the movie, “The Wolf of Wall Street”; how much more deliciously ironic can it get, where a movie depicting blatant corruption is paid for by the very manner in which the moguls of Hollywood are allegedly attempting to make a point about?  What prompted the short-cutting which undermines the title of the work credited to the 35th President?  Is it merely the old adage that the “ends justify the means” — and that not writing a work but claiming its authorship is allowable because the greater good of fame and the road to the presidency will account for such deception?

It is, in the end, the title itself which makes for the irony; for, in a work which describes the integrity and character traits of the subjects within, it is precisely the lack of such which presumes a contradiction without.  And that is the connection with Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers of today — for the entities which employ them represent the “official” face of this country, and yet the way they treat Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers when Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents him or her from performing all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, reflects upon a discernible and palpable profile in discouragement (the suffix is added to make the sentence grammatically correct, although poetic license has been taken in the caption of this blog with the title, “Profiles in Discourage” in order to remain consistent with its alter-ego of the work by JFK and Sorenson).

One could argue, of course, that because there is the statutory right of all Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, therefore any maltreatment or mistreatment of a Federal or Postal worker based upon the medical condition becomes a moot issue.

But that is precisely the point — treatment of the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker in the process of engaging the long and arduous bureaucratic process of filing an OPM Disability Retirement application, should reflect an integrity of cover-to-content.  For, in the end, it is not the cover, nor the first impression which matters, but like the historical characters which are insightfully described in the book itself, the title should always match its claimed authorship.  But, then, of course, we would be left without the delicious irony of man’s daily folly.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Employee Medical Separation: The abstract concept of “the other”

Existentialism could only have arisen from the ashes of nihilism; Western Philosophy, spanning the spectrum of metaphysics, epistemology, Rationalism, Empiricism and the tradition of questioning origins, essences and the compendium of who we are and what it all means, does not lead to the natural annihilation of intellectual curiosity.  But Existentialism, does.  Why?  Because Existentialism is an emotional reaction, rather than a rational rebuttal.

From the horrors of Nazi concentration camps and the denigration of human dignity reduced to mere abstractions, the philosophy of negation of which it is characterized, is more of a “sense” approach than a logical methodology of comprehension and understanding.  Thus, while traditional philosophy was always denoted by a curiosity towards abstraction, Existentialism was pulled back by a retractive revulsion because of the alienating impact of conceptualization.

That is why the most powerful explication of the philosophy of Existentialism is found in a novel by Camus (reference, The Stranger or The Plague), and not in reading Sartre’s meandering explanation (Being and Nothingness) of a confused attempt to systematize the emotive side of man.  Thus, in reading Camus, one gets the “sense” of abandonment, separation, distance and alienation of man from the community of others; whereas, in reading the traditional philosophical works — take any page from Plato, Aristotle or the Medievals — one enters an universe of order, systematized approach, and methodological rationalization emanating from curiosity and questioning.

The two approaches, however, are not unrelated; for, it is precisely because of the traditional training of discussing concepts in abstract form (and thereby separating the thought-process from human touch and interaction) that disregarding the humanity of a living being could be achieved.  In more provincial terms, it is easier to be cruel to a concept, than to one’s own child or spouse.  And, indeed, that is how we survive in advancing our purposive actions of harassment and sheer meanness; by objectifying “the other”, we can bifurcate our minds and categorize the subject into something less.

Supervisors do it to workers and underlings; no longer is the worker a fellow human being, but “that ## % !!”.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the lessons learned and gleaned from the reactive lens of Existentialism may be twofold:  First, don’t expect sympathy from the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service because you have a medical condition (that, unfortunately, is probably self-evident and a “given” already), and Second, do not expect cooperation or efficiency to suddenly prevail when engaging the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, merely because the need to obtain Federal OPM Disability Retirement should in and of itself touch a sense of empathy.

In neither case will a positive response be evoked.

Ultimately, the bureaucratic process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a surreal experience, and one in which the sense of alienation felt by Existentialism is encountered throughout.  That is because, in the end, the Federal or Postal applicant in a Federal Disability Retirement case is none other than a mere “other”, and no more than an abstraction to be gotten rid of, like the distraction you became when once you were no longer fully productive on the assembly line of life’s refuse of illegitimacy.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The last hurrah

We dream of those moments; the final word in a debate which devastates the opponent; the retort which wows the audience; the closing statement that persuades beyond a reasonable doubt; the performance of a lifetime which defines the value of life itself.  The final breath taken, the last hurrah heard, and the concluding catapult left not as a dangling participle, but as a substantive grammatical perfection, leaves the participants and viewers in silent awe in the wake of the closing curtains descending as the roar of the crowd becomes muffled because of the thunderstruck performance left with little doubt or residue for an encore.

Sometimes, however, it is better to let the silence interrupt, the pause intersect, and the non-retort prevail.

Discretion is a characteristic personality trait which rarely prevails, and less so in moments of reactive anger and tumultuous needs of flaring emotions.  For, the time elapsing between a declaration made and the thoughtless contortions of an emotional response, will often be of a split millisecond, and certainly not enough consideration for the synapses to fire within the fermented (or is it demented?) mind of the turmoil encased within.

The samurai who touches the hilt of his sword must consider the consequences; for, once unsheathed, the metal blade previously encased within the master artisan’s work must be used, lest cowardice be charged and reputation be tarnished.  In life, work, and daily living, we have multiple instances and encounters where the opportunity to speak, or not, are confronted and engaged; rarely do we reflect upon the least-favored alternative: silence.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the repetitive refrain is often to let everyone know, and to express one’s opinion loudly and without thoughtful editing, like the book publisher who self-publishes because no one else has seen the value of the Greatest American Novel left as an unknown and unsought manuscript, hidden in the dusty caverns of a mind secluded but for diatribes on the Internet.

The sagely advice of this lawyer: Unless there is a compelling reason to tell — don’t.  For, in the end, declared asides of fictional characters and the hubris of a Shakespearean soliloquy often result in death, destruction and dementia (and not necessarily in that order), and the last hurrah is often like the drowning sailor whose final surviving words echo soundlessly in the lapping waves of a vast ocean of Nature’s impervious imperialism, lost forever in the terminal breath of a gasping desperation.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset: Beyond the Disequilibrium of Life

Finding a balanced life after a disabling injury or medical condition with OPM Disability Retirement benefits

One can describe, in positive terms, the negative aspects of a thing, as in, “X is y,” etc. Or, as in the case often represented by Maimonides’ Negative Theology, one can elucidate by negation of perceived phenomena, leaving the subtraction of present realities to the imagination of the void.

Some may contend that the latter methodology of descriptive narrative adds nothing to knowledge; for, it is a negation of that which we know, and as King Lear reminded Cordelia, “Nothing will come of nothing:  speak again.”  But there is something beyond the nothingness of negation, is there not?  To negate is to expose the loss of something, the extracting and revealing of that which once was, became detached, and left as a void to be filled.

Thus can life present a semblance of equilibrium, where balance of family, work, community and value of living provides a coherence of a teleology of sorts; and when such coordination of essence in the core of one’s being gets out of whack (the term being of a very technical nature, used in esoteric philosophical discourse, as in, “He whacked away at the pages of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit”), there is a foreboding sense of loss and dispiritedness (again, the negation of a positive attribute).

Medical conditions tend to exonerate the negative theology of life.  Often, it is a subtraction beyond the chronic pain and debilitating nature of the medical condition itself.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the issue is often how, and to what extent, a persuasive description of one’s medical condition can purport to effectively represent the chronic and severe nature of one’s medical condition.

Some would contend that such an endeavor is nigh impossible to do; for, as the negation of equilibrium is the disequilibrium of life, so the mere subtraction of what we do and could do, does not necessarily present an accurate picture of one’s life.  And that is what is required, is it not?  Words have meaning; descriptive negations presume a context of knowledge already existent.

For the Federal and Postal employee who must present a compelling Federal Disability Retirement application to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the conundrum of attempting to adequately describe one’s medical condition, its impact upon one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, and the further pervasive effect upon one’s personal life, is a conundrum of epic proportions.

To engage in negative theology in the descriptive delineation on SF 3112A is to presume a context which is not yet there; and to describe the disequilibrium brought upon the Federal or Postal employee resulting from a medical condition, is to encounter the wall that separates between words, meanings, and the true experiences of life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire