Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: Means to an end

There is a difference, with a real distinction, between utilizing a process as a means to an end, as opposed to using people for the same purpose.  Such a concept should be a “given” – that logical posit which is unquestionably true, without the likelihood of being controverted, and generally accepted as a foundational principle in a caring society and community.  Yet, modernity has contravened such a belief, and truth and falsity have become relative concepts on the pendulum of linguistic elasticity where the spectrum of facts, beliefs and opinions have become an amalgamation of conflated confusions.

Have we lost the capacity to recognize and identify distinctions that are substantively different because of their self-evident meaning and relevance?  Do we no longer teach logic – whether of the fundamental Aristotelian syllogism, or the greater complexity by extension as delineated in Russell’s three-volume magnum opus, Principia Mathematica – such that we can no longer argue for even the basics when confronted by once-accepted paradigms that Kantian categorical imperatives allegedly put to rest forever and a day?

Yet, that final proverbial “day” has now passed, purportedly, and such statements have become mere fodder for dismissive philosophical trash-heaps characterized by “Mereology” and other third-rate, Oprah-like condescension of forgeries masking as genuine belief systems.

Sartre and Camus presented their cases; the former, through a meandering philosophical treatise some would characterize as “Heidegger-Lite” (the comparison can be made superficially on the titles alone – of “Being and Time” as opposed to “Being and Nothingness”) and where his plays allowed for greater coherence than any of his “serious” attempts, while the latter conveyed the angst of human repugnance to becoming “objectified” through novels depicting alienation and the dilemma of human value in the very activity of defiance and rebellion.

Man, we are told, should always be treated as an end in and of himself, and never as a means.  Yet, in this mechanized, electronic-ized, technologized society, where the Smartphone is King and the tactile engagement with one another is merely an afterthought, we have to recognize that such inane beliefs are now mere archaic formulations of former times, previous generations and outdated constructs no longer applicable.  The Angst of Existentialism has come full circle; that which we scoffed at because it originated from Continental Europe is no longer a Sisyphean mythology, but a reality that now consumes.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who feel the weight and burden of a medical condition, being treated as a means to an end becomes part of the process.

Past accolades of dedication and loyalty fail to leave a trail of concomitant interest and empathy of warmth; you find out quickly that others don’t give a hoot about distinguishing between “means” and “ends”; but in the end, it is precisely the means by which you end up treating a fellow human being, and the very filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application should in and of itself warrant treatment of being an “end”, and not a “means” – but such self-evident principles appear to no longer be the accepted normative value within a society that cries tears for the Oprah show, but not for the real human experiences of the person in your own office, sitting in front of you, a foot away, real, not imagined, not a picture on Facebook, but a person of real flesh and blood.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The hospital bed

It is a lonely and demoralizing state of affairs; they poke, prod and insist upon ruling out every sector of one’s body as the culprit of diagnosed maladies.  The hospital bed is a barbaric contraption next to a mediaeval torture chamber, and one can only imagine what such inventions were like in those olden days, when antiseptic means meant the possibility of washing one’s hands every now and again, and where pain and death were part of everyday living.

It reminds us, above all, of our own vulnerability and mortality; and what a blessing health and life are.

Oh, it is true – we take such issues for granted, and barely get beyond the tripe and inane statements like, “Oh, health is such a blessing,” or, “We are so thankful for our health.”  It is when one is in the hospital, alone in a bed, in the darkness of those twilight hours, that the reality of one’s own Being is revealed:  the projects we cling to; the significance we place upon the work we perform; and the extra credit we think we deserve when we work late into the wee hours.

We have heard all of those wise remarks, either in novels, essays or even movies:  On your epitaph, you do not get a special mention for ignoring your health.  Work is great, but that needs to be placed in its proper perspective.  The projects we engage and embrace – is it, as Heidegger reminds us, merely a means to avoid the inevitable outcome of our fate?  Do the gods laugh from above, pointing to our mortality and the fruitless attempts we cling to in order to avoid facing our future?

It is, in the end, the hospital bed that reminds us starkly of who we are, where we are heading, and what this all will mean.

Retirement is not meant to be a time to spend in a hospital bed; Disability Retirement is not meant to be filed at a point when a Federal or Postal employee is so debilitated that once it is approved by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, that one merely “retires” to a hospital bed.  It is, instead, a system whereby a person is recognized to no longer be able to perform some of the essential elements of one’s job, but that there is an implicit understanding that there can be a time in the future where productivity can be applied to a different vocation or another career.

Yes, there are jokes that abound – of Federal Disability Retirement annuitants being Walmart Greeters or engaged in other similarly menial and lesser jobs, but those are not the only stories to tell.  There are many Federal annuitants who have found private sector jobs where the pay scale comes perilously close to the 80% limit – and, while that can be a problem, isn’t that a “good” problem to have?

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits does not require the “higher” standard of being debilitated or “totally disabled”; rather, it is a standard which recognizes that there is an inconsistency between the position one occupies, and the medical conditions from which one suffers.  If consideration in filing is arrived at in a hospital bed, it is still not too late; but a reminder it is, and the next steps are to begin the long and complicated process of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: The Soul’s need for silence

If the world was merely one constant clatter, would we be able to stand the din of life?  Just as existence needs nothingness in order to have the separation of meaningful discourse, and as sentences need grammatical pauses (except in the cases of Faulkner and Joyce, perhaps), so the soul requires silence in the face of difficulties uninterrupted.

Medical conditions create havoc in lives; at first, perhaps just an annoyance or a nuisance, and the natural inclination is to rely upon the past that we know, and how – in remembrance of youthful vigor and quick rebounding and recuperation by mere strength and steely reserve – we were always able to ignore the pain, get past the turmoil and move beyond the anxious feelings of panic and depressive symptoms.  “It will pass,” we tell ourselves.  But then the long-view sets in; it is not merely a passing season, nor even a brief interlude of a cold north wind.

Instead, like the clinging vine that keeps coming back despite digging and chopping at the base of its roots, the chronic nature of the medical condition tells us that, as the unwelcomed uncle or aunt who has no other home and stays with you “just for a little while”, you cannot get beyond the season of pain and the intercession of turmoil.  It becomes a constancy, a persistence, a monotony of unsettled disquietude.  It is as if the soul’s search for silence finds only a din of unending noises as you search behind door after door for a room where relief and quietude may long for a bit of peace.

Souls need silence; silence allows for the interruption from din and darkness.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from the dual attacks brought on by a medical condition – of increasing workplace harassment as well as the loss of the soul’s quietude and peace – there comes a time when preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, becomes as necessary from a medical standpoint, as it is for the soul’s inner health.

Federal Disability Retirement is a means to an end – a recognition that the Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to produce at the level of acceptability, and a tolerance for allowing that same Federal or Postal employee to “move on” so that a basic retirement annuity can be obtained, and yet remain productive for the future in the private sector, where the (now former) Federal or Postal employee may make up to 80% of what one’s former job currently pays, on top of the amount of Federal Disability Retirement annuity.

It is also the allowance and recognition of another important factor – that the soul’s need for silence is a necessary component in the midst of din and darkness.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: The factors to consider

Whenever a problem arises, are you the kind of person who immediately rushes headfirst in order to “solve” it?  Are you like a first responder who by necessity, duty or conscience of being, sprints to save and runs to resolve?  Or, in contradistinction to circumstances that require thoughtless effort but urgent actions, do you consider the factors and ask the question, What criteria must be applied?  What would be considered a resolution of the problem, as opposed to a temporary cessation of a crisis-driven implementation?

The two are somewhat dissimilar, of course, in that the first example often does not have the luxury of pausing for a query, and the latter may allow for an ebb of questioning.

Thus, one would not want a philosopher pondering the conundrum of existential posits when the primary pipe draining sewage away from one’s home has a crack that is growing into an open fissure.  On the other hand, if repetition of recurring problems have haunted for some time, and the solution appears to require something beyond mere pragmatic settlement but a higher order of principled restraint, the factors leading to an overarching criterion may be mandated for a more far-reaching solution.

This is true in much of life.  There are many who repeat the same thoughtless actions only to find that the temporary solution comes back with ever greater fervor; few who ponder the underlying principles; and lesser still of a community of thoughtful cadavers who awaken from the slumber of daily monotony to consider the underlying factors that gird the first principles of life itself.

What factors need to be considered?  Where do we go from here?  Can we live on such reduced income?  Can we make it to the age of retirement, or the required combination of service time plus age, and still be in good enough health to enjoy some semblance of a retirement?  Will my agency continue to harass, employ mechanisms of onerous leave restrictions, and ultimately impose the sanctions of constant workplace hostility, and can I survive them all?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have come to a crossroads of sorts, where the medical condition, the inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, and the pressure that can no longer be withstood with the coalescence of such onerous burdens, preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the first step in resolving the repetition of a horrendous culture of dismay.

Life is never perfect, but when a problem which appears persistent and chronic will not simply go away because being a first responder is not the right solution to the difficulty, then the Federal or Postal employee must consider the factors that underlie the problems which constitute the principles inherent, and move forward with pragmatic steps towards a brighter future for tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Our narrative of discourse

Do we all carry about multiple narratives within?  Perhaps, one for public consumption; another, for family gatherings; yet another the edited version only for the ears of the young and uninitiated; and perhaps more, depending upon the audience, the susceptibility to believe, and the necessity for coherence as opposed to self-promotion and puffing up?

How about those “Service experiences” – where we get carried away in exaggerating the feats of bravery and encounters with the enemy?  How many politicians have been driven from office for telling a slight (or even not so slight) deviation from the “truth” in reenacting wartime stories and narratives of consummate manliness and Stallone-like fearless feats?  “Oh, the DD 214 doesn’t even begin to tell what I had to go through…”  Or even of high school days of athletic prowess and academic achievement in college; if only transcripts would remain silent in the archives of shrouded mystery in safekeeping for secrecy.

We do, each of us, carry multiple narratives of discourse, often dependent upon the audience we encounter and the susceptibility of suspending disbelief and the receptiveness to our meanderings.  So, why is it that we often fail to conform to the change of necessity, when it counts most?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, involves providing a narrative discourse in response to specific questions on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

This is the moment when truth must push aside exaggeration, and where some specificity of delineation must be attended.  The “nexus” or “bridge” between one’s Federal or Postal position and the impact by one’s medical condition must be established, and the targeted audience (the U.S. Office of Personnel Management – not your own agency, your supervisor or anyone related thereto) must always be kept in mind.

In the end, our narrative of discourse that we carry about in our own minds has always been about revealing some part of ourselves to an audience receptive to specific needs, and preparing an effective SF 3112A is no different from that perspective, and must be kept in mind when composing the narrative of discourse in a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire