OPM Disability Retirement: Accommodations and the Elegance of the Hedgehog

A French film (The Hedgehog) loosely following upon the novel (The Elegance of the Hedgehog), focuses upon the hidden life of an unnoticed individual, and through her providing a platform of unraveling the fears, aspirations, class differences and how we treat (or mistreat, as the case may be) each other based upon appearances and social constraints.  It is always the character of the child who uncovers the secret, as in the story of the emperor without clothes, and in this story, as youth has not yet been scarred by the juggernaut of societal preconceptions.

It is in the secret (and secretive) life of a janitor (for the French, the more refined title of a “concierge”), who hides her intelligence and love of literature for fear of appearing pretentious and thus facing the potential and threat of loss of her job attending to wealthy tenants — where the authenticity of a life’s worth reveals itself.  How the greater society reacts to an aberration of an entrenched social order disrupts the conventional manner in which people get along in a community.

The story presents lessons far-reaching beyond the obvious; and reaches into depths untraveled, including for Federal and Postal Workers who suffer from a medical condition and must contend with supervisors and agencies which view with suspicion workers who are “different” and do not follow the traditional routine of work and productivity. For it is precisely the Federal and Postal Worker, whether under FERS or CSRS, who must often walk with hesitancy and fear when they are suffering from a medical condition, such that the medical condition has begun to impact one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job.

Like the main character in The Hedgehog, revelation of the “secret” of one’s true being — of the medical condition, whether physical or psychiatric — would mean the potential adverse reaction of the agency.  Instead of providing for an accommodation of such a revealed “secret”, Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service will instead counter the situation with predictable aplomb, and begin the systematic harassment and intimidation to further complicate matters.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, is quite often the best option for the Federal or Postal employee suffering from a medical condition.  Like the character in the Hedgehog, the fear of retaliation for revelation of a “secret” which others believe to be disruptive to the social order, forces one to conceal that which proves to be the essence of humanity — that vulnerability is the true test of who we are.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Fragrance of Fear

One rarely associates fear with fragrance; perhaps with a malodorous scent, mixed with angst and perspiring anxieties just before flight; but, no, fragrance is generally linked to perfumes and similarly heightened pleasantries which enhance the attraction of attention.  But to dictators and emperors of insignificant fiefdoms, fear emits a sweet fragrance, one inviting sadistic responses and enlivening a meanness awoken by the subtle aroma of vulnerability and susceptibility.

Medical conditions invite fear; fear within the individual suffering from the injury or disability, for the future, for the pain and suffering associated with the diagnosis and prognosis; fear from without, expressed by loved ones and those whose associations can be counted within the circle of friends, family, and close acquaintances.  Beyond the normal parameters described, however, the ethereal fragrance of fear is caught by the olfactory nerves of predatory consciences awaiting the whiff of anticipated anxieties; as an evolutionary conduit to survival, it serves also to invite the unintended to exacerbated difficulties of life.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from medical conditions, whether of a physical or psychiatric nature matters not, the progressive deterioration and manifestation of the medical condition engenders a proportional heightening of fear; fear, in turn, further impacts one’s inability to perform the full functions of one’s job; and failure revealed at one’s Federal or Postal employment tends to invite a hostile work environment, bringing out the worst in people.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, is an option which the Federal or Postal employee should always consider, when once the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

Such a step is often the only pragmatic option to attain the needed context of restorative health, and to quash the fears which envelope and accompany the crisis. For, it is often the fragrance of fear which wafts through the still air and invites the things that go bump in the night, and where washing one’s hands clean is the single best route, as opposed to dousing one with perfumes, scented soaps and smelling salts, only to exacerbate the greater troubles of multiplied turbulences.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: The Universe of the Possible (Part I of II)

Children are brought into the extensive and unlimited world of the “possible”, precisely because (we believe) it provides for greater expansion of the fertile, creative mind.  But for the adult, the world of the “possible” is conceptually meaningless, and without objective import; for, the statement and belief, “X is possible”, retains no boundaries, and therefore it allows for all manners of fears, frauds and frivolities.

It is interesting to listen to news stories which confuse the concepts between the universe of the “possible”, and that which is “probable”.  When a report is issued beginning with, “Sources say it is possible that X occurred,”, it is of no greater or lesser value than if one declares that it is “possible that aliens from Mars intervened in an event”.  Both are equally possible.  It is only when facts enter an equation that the universe of the “possible” becomes contained to the smaller world of the “probable”.

For Federal and Postal employees who have encountered the “real” world of medical conditions, dealings with unsympathetic agencies, confrontations with supervisors and managers, the world of the “possible” quickly shrinks to the harshness of one’s immediate environment.  Concurrently, however, as fears and thoughts of potential agency actions magnify concerns and ruminating upon the unknown, one often allows for those childish dreams to wander, and to entertain the universe of the possible.

Get the facts; obtain proper counsel and advice; for it is only when facts and advice based upon real-world events are gathered, that one can properly limit the unlimited universe of the possible and deal with the reality of the probable.

For Federal and Postal employees who must make decisions for a real future, where filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits must be seriously considered, and where an encounter with the bureaucracy and administrative processes circumscribed by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management must be followed, it is important to recognize that the universe of the possible is merely for children and the unbounded imagination of childhood; whereas the world of the probable is what adults must contend with daily.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Fear & Darkness

The veil of darkness provides a contrast; for the predator, it allows for an advantage in stalking its prey; for the prey, the shimmering shadows reverberate of the unknown, but still, if one remains calm and quiet, an equality of disadvantage is allowed for, in that the predator must maneuver through the identical lack of visual acuity as they prey.

The singular equalizer for both predator and prey, in the calm shadows of darkness, is fear.  For the former, waiting and hoping that fear will flush out its prey by making a noise or venturing out thinking that a different location will provide for a safer haven; for the latter, it is the extent of one’s imagination which often leads to defeat; of fear instilled and mixed with images of what may happen, what could be out there, and where will it all end?

Why nightfall stirs the deep recesses of one’s imagination is a mystery; and even in the midst of civilized society, in the safety of one’s home, as one attempts to turn to the refuge of sleep for restorative relief, it is often then that thoughts of fear pervade in the dark of night, and in the void of one’s mind.  Such fear reaches back to the days of primitive life, and is complicated by the unknown.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s job performance; and where supervisors and agencies have been stirred to initiate adverse actions or discussions have already occurred of such dealings, it is often those primitive chasms from times past, of fear of the unknown, which must be countered with systematic and pragmatic steps to secure one’s future.

Man, in his essence, has not changed much over time; those in power still act as predators, and prey upon the scent of weakness.

Federal and Postal workers who suffer from medical conditions may need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, in order to escape the predatory practices of one’s agency.  Ultimately, the modern equivalent of the veil of darkness is ignorance, and in this case, not knowing the law and one’s rights is often the greatest harm suffered by Federal and Postal employees; and the modern equivalent of fear?  It is still the stepping into the unknown.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: The Threatened Order

One’s orderliness of life is dependent upon the next person; and like the proverbial domino which stands precariously wedged between the one previous and the one subsequent, the universe of stability is dependent upon the static nature of the surrounding environment.

Thus, in the antiseptic neighborhoods around the country, the quietude of the next door neighbor ensures the peacefulness of one’s heart.  If a violent eruption or turmoil occurs next door, and the flashing lights of law enforcement blink through the closed blinds and curtains of your house, you feel violated.

The principle has been tested and verified, that one’s own order in a physical, as well as psychological sense, is only as secure or vulnerable as that maintained by the next person.  For, we do not view ourselves; we view the world around us, and especially our peers, neighbors, coworkers and extended families, and it is by judging the stability of our surrounding environment by which we determine the security of our own lives.  That is why when a person becomes disabled, it threatens the relative peace and security of supervisors and coworkers within the agency, and they react accordingly.

In advising Federal and Postal Workers throughout the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CRS, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the question which is often asked is the timing of when to inform one’s Supervisor as to the intent to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Unless there is a compelling reason to do so, the time to inform should normally coincide with the actual event of filing, unless there is a valid reason to preemptively inform the agency.

The reaction of an agency is rarely different is substance from one’s neighbor or relative; the disruption of one’s antiseptic and ordered life is seen when a blemish occurs upon the landscape of a cosmetically airbrushed photograph.  When a slight rumble is heard, one looks immediately to the domino standing to the fore and the aft, in the known language of shipmates drifting rudderless in the vast sea of our own making.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire