Medical Separation and Retirement under FERS or CSRS: The stick figure across the street

We all drew them.  They are simple figures, one-dimensional, created not only by children and uncreative hands, but by sophisticated artists who convey complexity through their uncomplicated depiction.  Upon such lack of depth, we can project an unending dearth of fillers, precisely because the simple lines invite us to increase the servile skinniness by piling a composite upon the lean figures which are mere caricatures devoid of substance.

The neighbor across the street, whom we have never met, and who is but a figure the size between forefinger and thumb, and remains the remnant of a stick figure, and continues to convey, so; and when the annoying bark of a midnight dog awakens the sensibilities of insomnia and a sleepless night, or of such a thin veil of loss of restorative slumber that wakefulness becomes a better alternative, then we can fill in the gaps of the stick figure, add some meat and substance, with diatribes of invectives piled upon curses and unimaginable energies of words rarely considered and never previously uttered.

Coworkers used to be nothing more than such stick figures — before they earned that status of enamored stature.  That is why leaving a career, cutting short a lifetime of accomplishments, and turning away from the vindictive familiarity of a workplace once loved, is so difficult for the Federal or Postal employee, whether under FERS, CSRS of CSRS Offset.

Once upon a time, the stick figures were mere appendages and afterthoughts in the life of the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker; but over time, they gained substance, girth, and an unmerited significance merely by osmosis of daily encounters.  Thus, when a medical condition hits the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker with a force of plenitude such that filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management must be considered, it is not just the separation from mere commerce and economic entanglement which must be considered, but rather, extrication from a social network of figures who have evolved, over many years and sometimes multiple decades, into caricatures amassing and aggregating personalities, comradeship, shared sense of missions accomplished, and much more.

So long as they had remained mere stick figures from across the street, the distance of time, the separation of dimensions, and the wall of strangeness allowed for an ease of abandonment.  For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who must consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through OPM, however, the process is no longer merely a wave of goodbye to the stick figure across the street; no, instead, that has become the unwanted uncle who has no other home to go to, and must by obligation be evicted despite the relationship which has developed beyond the formless caricature painted upon our own minds.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire