OPM Medical Retirement: Enthusiasm of Life

There are those we sometimes meet in life where the infectiousness of enthusiasm cannot be avoided.  Whether such active energy can be truly sustained, to what extent, and for how long; and, whether such enthusiasm is matched within the essence of the being behind the veil of smiles and outward appearances, only the heart and soul knows in the privacy of one’s chambers.  Whether an artifice for show and appearances, or a true bundle of vitality, the reality of such people and their existence is besides the point; rather, the real issue to consider is the contrasting starkness which is revealed when encountering such people.

Most of us walk through life with limited energy, complaining of life’s inequities, and performing tasks with minimal effort.  The automaton is merely a person once removed from the daily monotony of life.  Then, when a medical condition hits the person, all of the fears and predictions of gloom merely become reinforced and proven beyond a doubt.  Thereafter, the logical sequence of events often occurs, and the “piling on” follows, where family, acquaintances, supervisors and coworkers known or otherwise forgotten begin to avoid and shy away from further contact.  The “disease of failure”, or that which lacks the look or scent of success, begins to pervade.  People are funny beings; they treat the maladies of others as if it can be caught like a viral epidemic.

Medical conditions prevailing upon Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers can have a similar effect and impact:  suddenly, the pandemic of avoidance and negative perspectives pervades all sides:  the Federal or Postal employee is no longer treated with respect by Supervisors, co-workers and the agency (the cynic, of course, would question whether such respectful treatment ever occurred in the first place), and proposed administrative sanctions and actions follow not too far behind.

Federal Disability Retirement benefits, filed through one’s agency if the Federal or Postal worker is still with the agency (or has been separated from Federal Service or the U.S. Postal Service, but not for more than 31 days), and ultimately through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is a step in the direction of regaining and reasserting one’s enthusiasm of, and for, that which life offers.  Staying in an environment where one is shunned and unwanted, will only exponentially magnify the stamping out and extinguishment of the afterglow of human endeavor.

Life is often short and stunningly cruel; and when a medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, consideration needs to be given to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, if only to escape the hostile work environment which further exacerbates the medical conditions from which one suffers.

The enthusiasm of life is not merely a viral cavity gnawing at the annoying person we encounter here and there; it is the essence of who we are in our natural state of being, but shaken and turned out of us by the incremental and subtle weight of burdens gained over time and troubled waters.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: Living “As If”

We all engage in it; it is a pastime, of sorts, which is enjoyed by the multitude, and reveals the imaginative capacity of the human animal, but with lingering questions concerning the evolutionary viability and purpose as to the utility of the need.

James Thurber’s “Walter Mitty” (the full title of the short story, which first appeared in The New Yorker in 1939, is “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”) relished the inherent escapism provided by the contrasting chasm between the monotony and oppressive reality of daily living in comparison to the far reaches of one’s imagination, thereby revealing the unconstrained heights of the human mind.

Living as if the reality of the objective world is not as it is, can be both enjoyable and healthy.  In this technological age of unfettered virtual reality, of computer-generated imagery melding the borders between that which constitutes reality and fantasy; and where little room is left to the imagination; perhaps the death of the world of imagination is about to occur.  Is that a good thing?

The problem with living “as if” has always been the other side of the two-edged knife:  the value of the first edge was always the creativity and imagination which revealed the powers of the human mind; but too much escapism, and one entered the world of self-delusion and consequential harm resulting from inattentive avoidance generated by reality’s harshness.

Some things just cannot be put aside for long.  Medical conditions tend to fall into that category, precisely because they require greater attendance to life, not less.  And that, too, is the anomaly of daily living:  when calamity hits, the world requires more, just when it is the reality of human compassion and empathy which is needed.

In the world of fantasy, those values of virtue which makes unique the human animal become exaggerated.  We enter into a world filled with excessive warmth, humanity, empathy and saving grace; when, in reality, those are the very characteristics which become exponentially magnified during times of crisis.

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 in the Federal government or the U.S. Postal Service, the idea that the workplace may reveal support and accommodation for one’s medical condition is usually quickly and expeditiously quashed.

Federal and Postal workers who have given their unaccounted-for time, energy, and lives throughout the years, and who suddenly find that they cannot perform at the level and optimum capacity as days of yore, find that reality and fantasy collide to create a stark reality of disappointment.  When such a state of affairs becomes a conscious reality, consideration should always be given to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

It is an employment benefit accorded to all Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, and must ultimately be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (if one is still with the agency or on the rolls of the U.S. Postal Service, then the application for Federal Medical Retirement must first be filed through one’s Human Resource Office; or, if separated but less than 31 days since the date of separation, also through one’s own agency; but if separated for more than 31 days, then directly with OPM, but within 1 year of separation from Federal Service).

In the end, of course, the wandering imagination of the human mind only reveals an innate calling and need to escape.  Whether that call into the far recesses of fantasy reveals a defect of human capacity, or a scent of the heavenly within the brutish world of stark reality, is something which we should perhaps never question.  For, even on the darkest of days, when clouds of foreboding nightmares gather to portend of difficult days ahead, it is that slight smile upon the face of a person daydreaming amidst the halls of daily reality, that sometimes makes life livable and serene despite the calamitous howls of ravenous wolves snarling in the distant harkening of time.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

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 FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: The Declination of Laughter

A Smiling USGS Employee

The Declination of Laughter

Does lack of laughter signify anything?  If a person was known to laugh a lot, then one day comes in with nary a chuckle, is it significant at all?  Is it the reverberation from the throat, or the eyes which reveal an underlying sadness, which tells the true tale of a person’s state of mind?  Can a person be in so much pain that he laughs out loud?  Why is it that there is such a thin and almost invisible line between laughter, insanity, and loss of control?

For the often contentious circumstances which surround and infiltrate the context and content of a Federal or Postal employee filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the question of the declination of laughter, whether by one’s Supervisor, the applicant who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, coworkers, or even family members away from the workplace, can be a telling factor on the spectrum and scale of who we are, what is being done, and what people are thinking.

In the end, life is a serious matter; medical conditions are no laughing matter; actions which impact the substantive future of individuals should be engaged with seriousness and consideration.  Ultimately, it is that dissonance between the mirthless eyes and the resonance of sound which is interpreted as laughter, which should concern everyone.

For the Federal or Postal Worker filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the time of laughter may not occur until well after the attainment of that goal; and even then, the daily problems of life must still be faced, including one’s ongoing medical conditions.  But, at least, the mirthless state of one’s workplace will have been left behind, and with it, the stresses of trying to figure out the intent and motivation behind that Supervisor’s laughter who, just the day before, metaphorically stabbed another coworker in the proverbial backside.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: The Hearty Laughter

Laughter is therapeutic; it is an expression, often spontaneous, responding to an event, a circumstance, a joke; sometimes, merely upon meeting an old friend and becoming flooded with reminiscences of mirthful times long ago.

It is a response of physical, emotional and mental totality; the body reverberates with joy and the echoes emanating from deep within; the flood of emotions are released; the mind becomes relaxed and unguarded.  Often, however, it is the eyes which are most telling.  Listen to a person laughing, and you may be fooled; watch a person’s eyes as he laughs, and it may reveal a dissonance which contradicts and raises suspicions.  For, laughter can also be the veil which attempts to conceal.

Similarly, in this economy of heartless efficiency, the Federal and Postal worker who must daily attempt to work through one’s pain or psychiatric condition in order to continue to work, despite suffering from a medical condition such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, there comes a point where the capacity to present one’s self contradicts the reality of what is actually occurring.

Most Federal and Postal workers are such dedicated workers that they continue to work through a progressively deteriorating medical condition to one’s ultimate detriment.  At some point, the dissonance and contradiction will reveal itself; and it is at such a crisis point when the Federal and Postal Worker comes to realize that Federal Disability Retirement benefits, filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, must be considered.

Whether one should wait until that flashpoint arrives is an individual matter.  But like the hearty laughter emanating from the deep chasms of a person whose eyes reveal pain and sadness, the Federal or Postal Worker who continues to put on a brave face each day, knows that as all the world is a stage, the actors must one day face the reality of the world in which we live.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire