Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Suburban Sketches

Within the past 2 weeks:  a rabbit’s nest is discovered in the back yard; then, in the early morning dawn of the next morning, that same discovery is met with a predator whose presence is feared only in the limited universe of suburbia — the neighborhood cat.  Laying with a sense of indifference and aplomb, the cat is quickly shooed away, hoping against any glimmer of hope. Sure enough, the heads of the two young bunnies had been eaten.

And the second wildlife sketch (well, not quite, inasmuch as a backyard in suburbia hardly constitutes the wilds of woodland forests):  attending to some chores, a baby squirrel walks without thought or suspicion right up to this human; a moment later, the mother prances frantically, and in the quiet language known only to animals, directs the young prey back to the safety of trees and branches.

Humans are merely a species within the greater genus of animals, and yet we tend to forget that.  It is, of course, at our own peril that we forget the obvious.

For Federal and Postal Workers who encounter and engage the carnivorous power of an agency, the bureaucracy of destruction can quickly stamp out the youthful naiveté which the Federal or Postal Worker may exhibit.  Perhaps it is like the bunnies:  As long as one stays in the metaphorical nest of one’s own making, safety will be assured.  Or, like the baby squirrel:  Be open, and no harm will result.

Whatever the consequences of youthful exuberance, the difference is at least this:  For human, most mistakes based upon a reliance of trust do not end in terminal consequences; whereas, in the wild, a singular mistake can result in death.  Trust in one’s fellow man is a reflection of two sides of a single coin:  the one side, revealing moral character; on the other, naiveté.

When a medical condition impacts the Federal or Postal employee, and consideration is given as to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, the query is often made as to how much trust should be granted or information should be revealed, and at what stage of the process, to the carnivorous animal known as “the agency”.

One should be able to glean the opinion of the undersigned as to the answer to that question, by the very nature of these sketches.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: To Be a Squirrel, for a Day

Watching them is an exercise of fascination; with nimble flight, to jump from a rooftop to the tip of a branch 10 feet away; scurry up and down trees with little thought (or is that merely a human projection without justification?) and no hesitation between the daredevil act and the graceful landing; and then to sunbathe in the midday warmth on a protruding ledge of the fence.

What a carefree existence; or so it would seem.  For, upon an extended observation, one realizes that there is never a moment when the squirrel is unaware of its surroundings, and that the anxiety-filled existence of human beings is not too different from that of the animal kingdom from which we conceptually separate ourselves, but of which reality forces a recognition of kinship.

One wonders how the ordinary individual can survive the daily stresses of life; but in turning to an uncomplicated animal such as a squirrel, you quickly realize that we are created as a bundle of stress-resistance nerves.  For the squirrel, the probability of a predator ready to pounce requires a heightened spectrum of awareness that approaches constant vigilance.  For the individual human being, the technological, artificial, but nevertheless just-as-real “stressors” of stimuli which require minute-by-minute responses, are readily received by the evolutionary adaptation first developed in the dangers of wildlife.

Thus, it is little wonder that when a medical condition hits an individual, the quickened pace of deterioration and progressive chronicity of the condition turns to debilitating impact.  By then, the stress-overload has reached its maximum impact.

For the Federal and Postal employee who is beset with a medical condition such that one must contemplate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the time between the onset of the medical condition and the need to file is often short.  This should not be surprising, given that the Federal and Postal employee has often ignored or otherwise overcompensated for the warning signs of impending consequences.

OPM Disability Retirement can take some time to obtain.  Whether under FERS or CSRS, every Federal Disability Retirement application must be filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and the waiting time tends to be arbitrary, but in each case, somewhat lengthy.  Given that, once the crisis point of “needing” to file has been identified, it is important to take the next giant step and initiate the process.

And, like the squirrel of whom we imagine is merely frolicking in the sun, the lack of outward appearance of a need is never the true indicator of what is going on underneath.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Watchful Eyes

The falcon flies in our midst; with an unknown distance of its perimeter to prey, it suddenly appears, perched with watchful eyes for squirrels, rabbits, other birds, etc.  Its flight is silent and graceful, and long before people realize its presence, the silence and sudden muteness of wildlife activity reveals the fear imposed by its mere appearance.  It flies silently, swiftly, and with a grace which demands awe and respect.  From its high vantage point, the targeted prey below rarely stands a fair chance of avoidance.  Those eyes are focused, with a singular vision operating to corner, catch and consume.  Organisms under a microscope must feel a similar sense, if indeed they become aware of being studied and prodded.

People, too, who are being surveilled and inspected; there is often a sixth sense of being constantly and vigilantly watched.  Federal and Postal Workers who are under the onerous burden of a Performance Improvement Plan (the acronym of a “PIP”) have that same sense.  It is not a positive or productive feeling; it is, instead, a dread of knowing that the “watching” part is merely a prelude for further actions forthcoming, like the noiseless glide of the hawk above.

Being under the constant gaze of a predator often requires preventative action on the part of the prey; for Federal and Postal Workers who come to recognize that his or her job performance is deteriorating because of a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management may be the best option and course of action to take.  Because it is taking such a long time to get an approval these days, preparatory steps should be taken early.  Waiting for a separation from service, while still allowing for time thereafter to file, is normally not the wisest course.

As it is always better to be the “watcher” than the “watched”, so the Federal and Postal employee who needs to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits should take the affirmative steps to prepare for an eventuality — that time when, like the hawk who has made a decision to target its prey, the Federal or Postal Worker has a place of refuge to enter.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire