Postal & Federal Disability Retirement: Meaning & work

A book of very recent vintage, written by an anthropologist, uses an 8-letter epithet in its title.  While it is always dangerous to refer to something without having read it, the various book reviewers have provided enough insights to recognize that it involves a judgment upon employment, work and the meaninglessness of many jobs held by the population at large.

There would be, of course, some criticism as to the validity of such a judgment, given the nature of being an “outsider” as opposed to an “insider” — i.e., from the “outside” (e.g., the author/anthropologist himself who makes a living by selling books criticizing certain subjects) perspective, it may seem like certain types of work retain no inherent meaning, but from the “inside” perspective (i.e., those whose jobs it is to perform such tasks, and the companies, corporations and entities that require that such tasks be maintained), elements of employment that outsiders may deem meaningless may contain elaborate foundations of meaningfulness.

That was, of course, one of the criticisms thrown by Marx — of the separation of labor from the value of existence, arising coincidentally from the industrial revolution where mass production and assembly lines in factories that exploited labor resulted in a disillusioning effect because people no longer saw the fruits of one’s own labor (an aside: Does that explain why so many people think that the original source of beef, poultry and dairy products come from the storeroom of Safeway?).

How does one work, make a living and concurrently retain “meaning” in all, if not most, of the tasks performed?  Anyone who has been employed for any significant length of time comes to recognize that the three are distinct and separable: work is different from “making a living”, in that you can work for endless and tireless hours and yet not make enough wages to pay all of the bills; and whether you work long hours or not, and whether you can pay all of the debts incurred or have extra spending money at the end of each pay period, the “meaning” one derives from the work engaged is not necessarily attached to either the hours expended or the money earned.

For some, perhaps, meaning is never derived from the work itself, but merely from a recognition that the work is merely a means to an end — of performing tasks in order to earn enough wages to own a home, start a family and provide for a retirement, etc.  Or, for others, perhaps a deep-seated recognition is acceptable, that life itself is like the task that Sisyphus engaged in, and the toil of work is as the meaninglessness of rolling the boulder up another hill, only to see it roll back down again, and thus repetition allows for the futility of all tasks great or small.

One’s resolve and the will to impose meaningfulness in the face of alienation is a testament to man’s capacity to seek greater good.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the need to continue to find “meaning” in striving often is closely tied to the progressively deteriorating aspect of one’s health.  When one’s health is at issue, “meaningfulness” of one’s work may come into question, precisely because one’s capacity to view employment as a means to another end itself becomes a struggle.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, allows for one to reorient the priorities in life that should not be confused: Health, family, a sense of accomplishment, and somewhere in that mix, a career that may need to be changed, abandoned or otherwise modified because of one’s deteriorating health and the impact upon the meaningfulness of carrying on where to do so sacrifices one or more of the mixed priorities.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Private hells

It is a familiar refrain to note that everyone has a self-contained “private hell”; and an even greater understanding that it is well that such thoughts of other hells are both private, and for the most part, left silent without conveyance or communication.  But that is changing, in large part, because people believe that mass dissemination of information has now unleashed any unspoken decorum of dignified discretion.

We believe, now, that everyone should “tell all”; that private matters once left as remnants of shameful self-confessions should be publicized because it is healthy for the inner soul to be uncovered.  But if that were really true, wouldn’t utopia have descended upon the Western World by now?

Revolutionary experimentation is often a good thing – at least, in limited dosages of consumable quantities with tolerable levels of tenacity.  But the mass acceleration of unlimited informational discharges, as evidenced by the Internet, Smartphone usage and widespread hacking and release of information of such great quantities that we cannot even begin to sift through the volume, has resulted in less, than more.  Is it because of the consumer age of technological advancement in which we all presume that “more” equates to “better”?

Once upon a time, in the quietude of an asceticism viewed with reflective consternation, the serious young individual considered shame, hesitation and discretion of public pronouncement; now, however, we have lost faith, abandoned decorum, and relinquished sovereignty, such that we have sold our souls for a mere pittance in return.

We can “tell all” so that expiation of sins once reserved for Dante’s circle of hell could be replaced with and substituted for a therapeutic society which never quite treats effective, rarely cures and always costs.  The cost of what we have given up never returns that which we have invested, and what was once sacrosanct is now mere fodder for comedians and irreverence for late night chatter and laughter of the belly-aching kind.

Somehow, private hells no longer exist; instead, they end up being confessed on a daytime show by a host who is deemed to be a doctor, but of what kind, we are never told.  Private hells imply two consonants of behavioral conflicts:  of a secret and limited access of information (privacy) combined with a torment unimagined and unfelt by others (hell).  Does the former (privacy) exacerbate the latter (hell), such that there is therapeutic value in publicizing that which is private, which would then allow for hell to become transformed into heaven?

We tend to believe so, and this generation of modernity has begun the journey down that path without any empirical evidence to support its belief-system.  Whether it will work, or not, time will tell.  For the time being, however, the private hells which consume the islands of individuals will result in the devastation of souls and psyches, as it has throughout the history of mankind.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who endure through such private hells, suffering from a medical condition only exponentially creates a greater hell than the earthly one which most people already experience.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a means to an end.

The means is the administrative process of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.  The “ends” will come about in order to escape that private hell, which is the slice of heavenly gratuity we are given with the birth of an unasked-for life, impeded by uncalled-for harassment, by unapproachable supervisors and managers unabashedly unconscious of the private hells they themselves have created.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire