OPM Medical Retirement: Holding on

The sense of belonging — of the attraction of the communal hearth — is a powerful draw, and prevents many from traveling too far from the proverbial oak tree.  The inherent contradiction, for Americans, is the paradigm of the rugged individual, and the concomitant idea that this country was and is different precisely because of the type of individuals and individualism which formed the basis of this community we call country.

But times change.  Change itself is a concept which engenders fear, loathing, and angst beyond mere discomfort.  Habituation and repetitive comfort can be derived merely in the methodological constancy of the mundane. Being comfortable and seeking human comfort is not a crime, and is often the telos of career choices. It is when that second step of the dialectical process intercedes and interrupts, however, that the discomfiture of disruption creates havoc and one’s life can go awry.

The thesis is the life lived; the antithesis is the condition of interruption or disruption; and the synthesis is that which is potentially to be, but now not yet known.  So goes the Hegelian dialectical process.  For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker whose career has fortunately been gliding upon a linear path, and from start to career’s finish, a relatively smooth ride has been enjoyed, the blessing of such a continuum is one of mundane and delicious success.  But for the Federal employee or Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the possibility that one’s chosen career may need to be interrupted, is indeed a hearth-wrecking event.

Determining whether or not filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a necessity, is a hard choice; knowing what the choices are, while limited and finite and therefore easily discernible, can nevertheless remain a conundrum but for good advice and counsel which can be objectively assessed and conveyed.  For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker, the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement can be a two-edged sword: on the one hand, the mere existence of the benefit reminds us of our vulnerability and mortality; on the other hand, it is a benefit to be accessed when needed, and the need is based upon a legal criteria which must be proven to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and such need allows for an out from the quandary of one’s medical conditions.

The draw of the hearth is indeed a powerful one; one’s organization, agency or Federal department can be considered a hearth of sorts, especially when one has expended so much time and effort in building one’s Federal career. But when the embers of warmth begin to fade, and the winds of winter blow the chilling parabola of a future reflected, consideration must be given for change, and change may require the embracing of an antithesis in order to build a brighter future for tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Comparative Refractions and CSRS/FERS Medical Disability Retirement

The optical effect of refracted light when it passes through an altering medium is that of a changed phenomenon.  One can engage in an activity which we all enjoy: of comparative analysis before and after, or in parallel evaluation; and just as we determine life’s compass of success or failure by looking at other lives, so the refracted light provides a symbolism of comparative satisfaction or dissatisfaction, as the case may be.

Changes of perspectives allow for a sudden and new awareness previously unknown; sometimes, the cocoon of the limited universe we have chosen will be a comfort zone and a security blanket which we are content to remain in; but then a crisis occurs — one which may be disproportionately viewed, given the relative antiseptic life we have created — and the difficulty of dealing with the change is reflected like the optical alteration of refracted light.

For Federal and Postal Workers who suffer from a medical condition which begins to impact one’s ability/inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s duties as a Federal or Postal Worker, this phenomenon is well-known, familiar, and often challenging.

Medical conditions constitute a crisis of being, precisely because they necessitate a change and potentially a wholesale reconstitution of one’s life:  Work, which often involves more than a third of one’s time and life; family, which is impacted by the difference in income; and self, because one’s identity is so intimately tied to one’s work. Who we are; what we represent; where we are going; how we are going to get there: all are impacted.

That is why filing for Federal disability retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is so important. It allows for a period of respite and interlude in order to reorganize and coordinate.  It allows for a time of attending to the medical condition; of securing a base annuity upon which to survive; and creates an atmosphere of positive thinking for the future.

As nature provides guidance of life, so the refracted light hints at a manner of dealing with problems in life.  For the Federal and Postal Worker, reflecting upon refraction may be the first important step in recognizing this guiding principle.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Silhouette Man

The object/subject issue pervades discussions in Western Moral Philosophy; in simplified form, of the ethics of treating one’s fellow human being in a one-dimensional manner, as an object to be manipulated, deprived of, worked about, etc. Like a silhouette in front of a moonlit sky, objects in the world, both animate and inanimate, are encountered by the subject of “I”, and until a personal engagement involving conversations, exchanging of information, and other intersections of relational entanglements, the pathway of the subjective merely observes “others” as objects, with anthropomorphic projections of assumptions that moving creatures and other fellow beings also walk about with a similar consciousness as the “I” which occupies one’s particular body in a given space and time.

Supervisors and managers often treat employees in such a manner, despite years and even decades of an established employment relationship. “Go ask Ed, the IT guy”; “That’s Bob the Engineer’s department”; and similar such references which imply that, beyond the limited scope of what X is known to do within the narrow confines of work-related issues, nothing further is known about, or related to, in referring to a particular person.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, that is precisely what begins to happen, isn’t it? “John — you know…” “Karen — she called in sick again.” “Kevin won’t do that — you know, his ‘condition'”. And with knowing looks and furtive smiles, the reference to the one-dimensional aspect of having pigeonholed the individual into a recess of definitional confinement: the medical condition defines the Federal and Postal employee, and is known exclusively and objectified in concretized form.

That is why Federal Disability Retirement benefits are often the only viable option left for the Federal or Postal Worker; for, in being treated as a one-dimensional object, the ability to relate to others in the workplace in a subject-to-subject manner is lost, and often forever. Federal Disability Retirement benefits are available for all Federal and Postal Worker who are either under FERS or CSRS, if the minimum service requirements are met (5 years for those under CSRS, which is a given; 18 months for those under FERS). It is filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and is an employment benefit accessible for all Federal and Postal Workers.

Such accessibility allows for a passage away from a seemingly one-dimensional universe beset with suspicion, whispers, retaliations and shunning, and allows for the complexities of every human being to escape being viewed as a mere silhouette, like a cardboard figure at an amusement park waiting for a pop-gun to shoot it down.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire