Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Closet of skeletons

It is a metaphor that is familiar; of secrets, or near-secrets; of those cluttered past incidents and events that need to be kept in the hallway closet, perhaps even locked for safety and security, whether of embarrassment, regret or shame.

Yet, modernity has less of them.  With the disappearance of shame, of openness of societal mores and normative values disappearing, almost vanishing, there is then no need for the closet to exist, and skeletons are fewer and far between because we have redefined what is shameful, what should be regretted, and that which is deemed unworthy of public display.

“Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.”  That quip is attributed to Mark Twain, of course; the grand humorist of American society, and the author of books that have touched the conscience of an unsettled people.  How does a species stop blushing?  By rearranging that which triggers such a characteristic – the words that touch, the concept that shames, the sentence that embarrasses and the paragraph that pushes.

There are, of course, positive consequences, as well; for, the openness of society and the suppression and obliteration of normative standards have allowed for silent crimes that were once unspoken to be openly displayed and cauterized.  Perhaps, sometimes, “talking about it” opens things up, allows for the public airing of that which was hidden because polite society did not want to deal with it; but since it existed, anyway, we might as well open the closet of skeletons as a society and let everyone see whatever it is that we were ashamed of.

Sometimes, or more often than not, those monsters within are greater than the reality of the objective world.

Medical conditions often relate to such a concept.  We tend to hide them, be ashamed of them, and make of them larger than what necessity dictates – except for old men and women standing in the line at the post office who openly discuss the details of their last operation and procedures, of course.

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, remember that filing 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, is often like the closet of skeletons; once they are out in the open, the agency and the Postal Service will have to deal with it, just like the Federal or Postal worker who had to “deal with it” – the medical condition – for all of these many years, fearful of the shame of revelation and the reaction of the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement: Bastion and Refuge

The former is a fortress of protective repose; the latter, a shelter from pursuit or danger; in either case, both provide for an escape from harm.  And there are harms beyond physical danger, which count as “real” threats.  One need not be a refugee standing in line at the borders of Hungary or Croatia, hoping to be given asylum enroute to Germany, France or the U.K. in order to be considered a person of persecutory targeting.

Whether physical harm or by psychological demeaning, the need for safe harbor should never be determined by comparative analogies of differing circumstances, but via the perception of our needs and levels of tolerance.

In logic, there is the fallacy of mereology, where the relationship of part-to-whole can lead to conclusions wrong in substantive form, and dangerous in terms of truth and validity.  One’s own circumstances may be “merely X” in comparison to the greater encompassment of tragedies taken as a whole; but that does not necessarily invalidate the reality of the desultory situation one must face, and the loss of compass, meaning and circumference of relational considerations in determining the future course of one’s life.

Medical conditions have a tendency to skew one’s perspective.  To continue on without change or repose, because the rest of the world in comparison to one’s own microcosmic universe is merely that much worse off, is to deny the reality of one’s own hurt.  For Federal employees and Post Office workers who feel that giving up one’s career and applying for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is a step towards escaping to a bastion and refuge but one which fails to adequately compare to others in more dire circumstances, the need for a “reality check” is often required.

One needs to always start from the vantage point of the present.  What others do, where others are, and how comparatively one’s own situation is “merely X” in contrast to stranger-Y, are irrelevancies perpetrated upon one’s imagination through an overabundance of informational overload.  Once, there was a time when a local newspaper was the only contact with the greater world.  Now, with Smartphones and constant Internet access, we tap into the greater bastions and refuges of those in far-off lands.

But for the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who must confront the reality of the situation of contending with a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal positional duties, the “here and now” is what must be faced, and whether one’s medical condition and the situation facing the Federal or Postal worker of today “merely” pales in comparison to others in unknown wastelands, is to concern one beyond the focus and centrality of concerns and problems encountered now, in real time, in the reality of one’s universe, today and this minute.

Other parallel universes will have to deal with their own internal problems; it is the bastion sought and the refuge take by the Federal or Postal employee of today, which matters in the most personal of manners, and what should concern the hurting Federal and Postal employee in the here and now.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Life’s Repertoire

It is one thing to have a stock of memorized pieces or performances from which one can reach back and employ, like an inventory of dusty artifacts which can be brought out for display upon request; quite another, however, to reveal it, dust off the residue, begin to showcase it, then be interrupted and, without missing a beat, to ad lib above and beyond the prepared piece.  The tape recorder (does anyone even remember what that contraption is or was, in this digital age?), the CD, the digital device; once set, it can only be altered by enforced remixing.

The human being, however, can adapt and respond according to the vicissitudes of changing and demanding circumstances.  The best jazz musicians are the ones who can go with the flow, and change from the vast spectrum of rising keys and notes in the flash of a feeling; as the blare of the trumpet, the sax or the flugelhorn rhythmically calls upon the beat of the drummer.  It is, in the end, the repertoire which we carry, from which we can wander; without the inventory left in reserve, we would have nothing to start with.  In life, we rely upon that repertoire to carry us forward each day.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker who becomes beset with a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to interrupt one’s stock of daily routines, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, becomes an important part of that inventory.  Yes, it is an inventory of change, a repertoire of alterations; and some ad libbing must be engaged; but much of life’s repertoire has been unusable, anyway, and the forced alterations may stretch one’s limitations, but rarely break.  Procrastination, avoidance, neglect and suppression of the inevitable — they are never the stock and trade of the best of jazz musicians.

Rare is the Federal or Postal employee who is also an accomplished jazz musician; but in the privacy of one’s home, the Federal or Postal employee who is forced to consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM because of an interruption from a medical condition, is one who must ultimately toot his own horn, in his own time, and in his own unique way, whether forced or not, and to reach back from the vast repertoire of life in facing the challenges in confronting a medical condition both unexpected and unwanted, but there anyway, as another obstacle to overcome in this thing we call a journey of life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Foreign Lands

There was a time when foreign lands had a sense of the exotic and prohibitive; but in a shrinking world, where technology brings images of distant scenery into homes and living rooms “as if” time and geographical dissonance matters not; and where virtual reality and computer graphics crosses the bifurcated worlds of fantasy and reality; today, it is the native who finds that being a foreigner in one’s own country is far more common than merely the inability to communicate  effectively in a different tongue.

Being in a foreign land is merely a state of mind; the pendulum swings, and swings far and wide, when first one enters a territory of unfamiliarity; but over time, with growing acclimation and recognition through daily routines, the distance of the pendulum harkens back to a beginning point, and a balance is achieved.

That is how one felt when first the career and employment entered with youthful vigor was embraced just after the school days of yore; the tingling excitement of a new venture, a steady paycheck and fresh with ideas to conquer the universe filled the cauldrons of hope, and where the future beckoned but with endless opportunity and fenceless expanse.  Crisis points have a jarring effect.  They tend to dampen spirits and shake the foundations of confidence and composure.

For newly disabled Federal employees and injured U.S. Postal workers who are hit with a medical condition, even sometimes a mildly disabling condition, the sense is often that one has entered into a foreign land, and the language spoken is one which few understand, fewer still speak well, and where only a handful are willing to take the time to give explicit directions.  Suddenly, the very people who were once comrades in coordinated efforts of missions to accomplish, act as if they no longer know you; familiar doorways are suddenly shut; people whisper, and whether they do so in hushed and incomprehensible tones, or in a language unfamiliar, all amounts to the same.

The need to apply for a visa to exit the land once loved, becomes a reality to forebear; and the Federal or Postal worker who can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, must consider carefully the ramifications of leaving that land once beloved, but now distant in space, time, and geographical reality.  One has become a foreigner in a foreign land; and the exit still open is to file for Federal Employee Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

How, and whether, and to what avail, such tragedy struck, is not as important for the time being as the pragmatic steps needed to be taken in order to secure one’s future.

When war breaks out in a foreign land, the pawns to be captured and traded for barter and advantage often involve the vulnerable and the expendable; and having a medical condition which impacts the Federal or Postal employee’s capacity and ability to perform in the workplace, often becomes like a war zone of sorts; and filing for Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefits  is merely another type of fight, of a bureaucratic sort, through an administrative maze in another foreign zone of battle.

For the Federal and Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the time to exit is before the borders are sealed, and to enjoy the scenery of foreign soil from the safety of one’s home.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire