FERS Medical Retirement from the OPM: The wasted life

Perception is one thing; reality is quite another.  Plato’s entire compendium of works can be reduced to the essence of that thought: The worth of life’s goal is to embrace pure Being, the reality that surrounds, and to distinguish between appearance and truth; the allegory of the Cave; the arguments with Thrasymachus; the diatribes against the poets — the latter, because they distort perception and create myths by which people live for and believe in.

Some would argue that the starkness of reality cannot be the sole arbiter of life’s value; that poetry adds to the worth of life, even if misperception of Being dominates.  What is a life’s value, and how is it determined?  Who considers that a life is wasted, and by what standard do we judge?

In the Allegory of the Cave — when the man who frees himself from the shackles of misperception climbs up and sees the sunlight: What if he desires to go back into the darkness of untruth, precisely because the unreality of the world is preferable to the pureness of Being?  And how much of convention and human folly attaches upon the judgment of worth?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the judgment of others in determining the valuation of one’s life often gets in the way of doing that which is “best” for one’s circumstances.

Yes, career and continuation in a secure, stable job is important; and, yes, financial stability for the future is an important consideration in the decision-making process.  But so is health and the balance of one’s life.

When health becomes a concern where there arises an incompatibility between work and well-being, the latter must always be chosen as a priority over the former.  And while others may judge that an interruption of a promising career constitutes the wasted life, such conclusions are made by those who, like the unfettered encounter of the man in the Allegory of the Cave who sees the pure Being of reality by looking up at the sunlight, it is the blinding darkness of ignorance that follows which makes for poor judgment and lack of insight into another’s life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Detectorists

For those of you who are fans of the British series, a sad wave of goodbyes ensued after the third and apparently final season that depicted intelligent humor, a subtle sense of British irony and a deep love for human relationships above material wealth.

Simplicity and the idealized community of pastoral lifestyles amidst the bustle of the world beyond allows for the story to capture the imagination of fans and viewers.  None of the characters in the series have much or anything in common with one another — whether in profession, personality or commonly-held beliefs — except for a love of a hobby that unites their differences and quirky individualism.

Many of the references contained within conversations must be Googled in order to attain a greater appreciation; the constant references to the musical interludes of Simon & Garfunkel are easily recognized by a generation of those who grew up with the music; and the deep historical references engendered by images of an ancient past creates a sense of mystery beyond minor relevance to the emptiness felt in the way we live today.

Who would have thought that there would be of much interest in a group of misfits scanning fallow farm fields for ancient traces of Norman or Celtic residue?  Gold and similar treasures are the unspoken goal of everyone, though such dreams of ancient discoveries remain deep within the consciousness of every such hobby-seeker; and like so many such series, there will be an abiding cult-following, for we always want more: 3 seasons of watching Andy and Lance banter among the grassy knolls of the English countryside just doesn’t seem enough, and the subtle British humor demands more despite the final episode that gave satisfaction to all treasure seekers — of riches literally falling down from the heavens.

What metaphorical lessons can be gleaned from two comics of such ordinary means — is it the pastoral background?  Of a simpler life offered?  Of human relationships that might otherwise have never been forged?  Or does it abide in the idea that the true treasures we seek are hidden just beneath the surface, where such places are stepped over each and every day without their due recognition?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the “life-lessons” from the Detectorists might be that clinging to those things we consider “treasures” while one’s health deteriorates may be a wrongheaded approach; and while obtaining a Federal Disability Retirement annuity may not be the “answer” to all of the difficulties faced by the Federal or Postal employee struggling with a medical condition, it at least allows for the Federal or Postal employee — whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset — to focus one’s greater efforts upon regaining one’s health.

And like the detectorists who scan about for treasures beneath the surface, it may be that a more pastoral lifestyle without the stresses of the modern workplace may serve to bring about a healthier outcome.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire