Federal Disability Retirement: The Stolen Soul

Superstitions often have a grain of truth in them; otherwise, they would not have endured the test of culture, time and governance of actions in ensuring their longevity and pervasive countenance.

Aboriginal tribes and remote communities far removed from the technological modernity of this growing world; pockets of secluded peoples and those who simply shy away from the spotlight of drones like druids of yore; once, there was a belief that having a photograph taken or an image drawn constituted the stealing of a soul.  We don’t believe that.  We no longer believe such nonsense.

Such belief systems constitute an anomaly tantamount to insanity, or at the very least a level of eccentricity bordering upon an unacceptable level of non-conformity.  Indeed, instead, we have gone in the opposite direction of the extreme: many no longer visit ancient and sacred sights with a view by the naked eye, but through the lens of a video camera never to be detached from the “on” button; and we deplete and exhaust the personal “I” within the sanctity of our selves by posting the most personal of information on Facebook and other public forums for full view and entertainment, reserving nothing of a private nature.

For, in the end, the technology of the internet is merely an advanced form of the singular photograph of yore; and as the daguerreotype of yesteryear represented the technological advancement of securing frozen images in a given time, of a place cemented within the historicity of events and contexts of human occurrences, so the voluntary dissemination of information about ourselves is merely a logical extension of that loss of privacy and depletion of the soul.

The soul is not inexhaustible; and is that not why there is so much emptiness and loss of value in the world?  Of the content of information which we consider “personal” and “private”, that which concerns our medical condition tops the list.  Yet, in the context of Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, agencies and the U.S. Postal Service will inquire, demand of, and insist upon, release of medical information beyond that which constitutes allowable breach of confidentiality, leaving aside the issue of good taste.

Of course, when the Federal or Postal employee decides to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, then the onus of proof (by the legal standard of “preponderance of the evidence”) is entirely upon the Federal or Postal employee, and in that event, such submission of medical information is voluntary and must be done in order to secure the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  But before that, Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service will often demand medical information without limits or respecting of privacy.

A response by the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker should be carefully considered, lest there be a later conflict when filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  For, often, during a time and circumstance prior to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the issue is one of wanting to continue to work; and, in any event, unconstrained dissemination of information of the most private nature — that of medical information — should always be carefully guarded.

In the end, releasing of medical information is like that superstitious sense held sacredly by those aboriginal tribes now lost in the deep forests of forgotten time; once, we believed that a single photograph would steal our soul, to be forever tortured in the chasms of an enemy’s grip; today, such a suspicion has been replaced with the foolhardy belief that we can give of ourselves indiscriminately, without the stolen soul suffering the agony of public scorn.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Blank Canvas

For a painter, it is either the sight of uncontrollable delight, or a subtle sense of foreboding into depths of despondency; for the blank canvas represents two sides of a single coin:  an opportunity to do what one can, or the beginning of that which may be rejected by an unappreciative public eye.  But that is the inherent anomaly of every opportunity presented:  potential success, or possible failure.

That is why we carry around within us quips of self-appeasement, in order to lessen the weight of expected shortcomings:  “Nothing gained, nothing lost”; “It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all”; the list of 100 successful people who failed at first; and other proverbial self-motivators.  Within such realms of fear and loathing for the future, however, is the truth of living:  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Until one brushes the first dab of color upon a blank canvas, one will never experience the beauty of art, and while failure may never be the end product if one never begins, so success and the potential for human fulfillment can never be realized.  Unexpected circumstances in life often provide a basis for people to just “give up” in despair.

Medical conditions tend to be a foundational basis for such surrender to life’s inequities, and Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from an unexpected medical condition, know better than most how unfair life can be.  Suddenly, the gush of accolades stops; the golden boy or girl of yesteryear is considered merely with a disdainful passing glance; and coworkers shun as if beset with a disease of contagion.  But Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit which is tantamount to a fresh and blank canvas:  it is an opportunity of sorts, and should be approached with the same rashness and expectation of delight as when once youth feigned ignorance of future forebodings.

Federal Disability Retirement allows for the Federal or Postal worker to have a fresh beginning, a new start, in painting a picture filled with bright colors and scenes of unanticipated opportunities.  While it may pay a base annuity of 60% of the average of one’s highest 3 consecutive years of Federal Service for the first year, then 40% every year thereafter, it is that financial bridge for future endeavors which must be considered.

It is a benefit accorded to all Federal and Postal employees who find that a medical condition now prevents them from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job; but beyond the monetary benefits, it is also like the blank canvas which allows for a fresh start in a life often filled with gloom and despair, but where the plenitude of colors may yet be chosen with a steady hand for the future.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: Dawn’s Transition

In the calm of morning darkness, when the stillness of winter whispers a hushed tone of quietude just before the first break of dawn, one’s perspective falls askew amidst the shadows and desolation of winter.  Is that a rock or a dead bird, frozen in the stillness of winter’s despair?  Was the movement behind the trees a reflection, or just the first faintness of dawn’s exposure?  Perspectives are funny glazes; a once familiar landscape can be frighteningly unfamiliar within the dark chasms of one’s own mind.

Then, almost imperceptibly, the light of dawn begins to pervade, and that which once appeared strange and foreboding, takes on the familiarity of known objects, recognizable forms, and identifiable shapes.  We live by light, and light is the friend of our fanciful imaginations gone awry by fear and loathing.

Medical conditions have a similar subtlety, much like the light of dawn:  they slowly creep upon one, until the debilitating impact is revealed when just a moment before, the fear of darkness was overwhelming.  But just as the morning glow of the rising sun will bring warmth and a promise of openness, so the hope underlying any conflict in life must be placed within a context of future castings.  Hope is for the future, as light is a diminishment of a present or past darkness.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition,  present circumstances are often like the overwhelming and foreboding sense of morning darkness before the dawn of the rising sun; it portends yet of a future unknown, and a fate yet to be decided.  That is why it is important to “let go” of those things of which one has no control, and concurrently, to affirmatively take steps towards the familiarity of that which is known.

Federal Disability Retirement benefits, filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a “known” quantity.  Yes, it is a difficult administrative process and procedure to engage; yes, it is a bureaucratic morass of unquantifiable proportions; but it is a necessary step for those Federal or Postal employees who find themselves with a medical condition which begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from continuing in the positional slot of one’s Federal or Postal job.

As the allegory in Plato’s Republic tells the story of the enslaved shadows struggling in the darkness of the Cave, so the Federal or Postal employee who looks up at the opening beyond, to the light of dawn, must surely recognize that the fear and loathing felt in the shadows wavering in that moment before dawn’s glory, is but a temporary point in fate’s cradle, just before the brightness of one’s future is revealed in a time and place yet to be destined for the glory of summer.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Law: Loss of Meaning

What it is that motivates a person to achieve greatness; whether the factor of that which does, or purports to be, and to what extent the outward articulation of the elements of a driving force corresponds with the esoterically objective truth underlying the learned and expected statements for public consumption; these, we may never know.

Most of us engage in repetitive monotony of actions; whether by fear of societal retribution, the judgment of peers, a sense of responsibility and obligation; or, perhaps even by sheer ignorance and stupidity, where the instinctive drive is merely based upon the base hunger for accumulation of material objects; as self-reflection is rarely a consideration of serious intent, so the onset of what some deem a mid-life crisis is often nothing more than a pause in unthinking acts of greater thoughtless chasms in void and vacuity.

Medical conditions, and the impact of a debilitating injury or disease, can be the prompting nudge for change and upheaval. Whether because a medical condition forces one to consider a redistribution of life’s priorities, or merely because they interrupt the capacity and ability to continue in an unthinking manner; regardless of the motive, change becomes an inevitable consequence of an unexpected medical condition.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal Worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is an option of limited choice.

For, as the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, so the dependency upon the agency to provide a “reasonable accommodation” is ultimately an act of futility.  “Reasonable accommodation” is merely that which is accorded in order to perform all of the essential elements of the job; it does not do away with any of the elements, and thus is rarely conceivable, and practically impossible to implement.

Federal and Postal workers who are prevented from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, at least have the option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits. Many in the private sector have no such benefit, and are thus left to disparate means and desperate devices.  Often, the onset of a health condition becomes a crisis of meaning, where the medical condition itself compels the Federal or Postal worker to question the meaning and value of one’s work and accomplishments.  But the loss of meaning need not occur as a necessary or inevitable consequence.

Federal Disability Retirement accords an opportunity of a second bite at the proverbial apple; there is life after Federal Medical Retirement for those who get beyond the long and arduous bureaucratic process, and the meaning of one’s existence need not be the harbinger of fate, but merely a door opened for future endeavors of thoughtful exercises and prioritizing of values.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset: To Fly a Kite

It is the epitome of a pleasurable moment, of engaging a mindless activity which spurs thought; and so to fly a kite is to soar with winds beyond our reach.  Does a life lived vicariously live life lifelessly?  As the flapping breeze at heights unreachable carries it airborne with but a thread to preclude its sudden spiraling away and into an abyss of telephone wires, treetops and treacherous heights of threatening snags, it is that hand which holds steady the coil of connection which controls length, movement, and steadiness of stability.

How tenuous is the reed of life?  When once youth masked the viscosity of existence, where mortality seemed but a yarn of empty rocking chairs and tall tells in the shadows of the flickering embers of a warm fireplace; and how the tenacity we maintained with vigor and vitality concealed those fears we harbored as we set about to conquer the challenges of an uncertain world; but when the fanfare subsided, and the promises of unspoken ceremonies fell silent before the finish line, the realization that life is but a short span of eternity where worth and value can be embraced only by measuring the momentary warmth of a hug or holding a gaze with a loved one for a millisecond beyond the practical, then does one finally achieve a balance of peace in a universe of turmoil.

The holidays tend to bring such realizations to the fore; so do medical conditions and their impact upon body, mind and soul.  If by “soul” we attribute, just for a moment, not that controversial component of man where existence beyond the ephemeral world of matter must by belief encompass eternity, but instead, the aggregate of man’s complexities:  of mind, physical body, consciousness, the heart and vegetative divisions, etc. — then it is indeed the totality of man who is impacted by a medical condition.

For Federal and Postal employees who find themselves with a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the tenuous reed of life becomes exponentially magnified because of the stoppage of career, intervention of life’s goals, and interruption of all of the “things” that need to be done.  An interrupted life is like the proverbial ship without sails; the moorings have been damaged, and one senses a drifting without control.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a pragmatic step for the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal Worker who cannot perform each of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position.  When a medical condition impacts a Federal or Postal employee, it is the pragmatic steps — the ones which can actually realize a practical outcome — which counts for something.

If you are a Federal or Postal employee under FERS, and you have at least 18 months of Federal Service, then you have already met the minimum eligibility requirement to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  If you are a dinosaur under CSRS or CSRS Offset, then you have likely already met that requirement, anyway.  All that is necessary is to put together a case of proving that one’s medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, by a preponderance of the evidence.

For, in the end, it is that thin thread which guides the pleasure of flying a kite which stands between chaos and connectivity; letting go should not be the only option; it may just be a little tug which is all that one needs, in order to steady the flight of life and retain that childhood sense of invincibility.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire