Federal Disability Retirement: The Misfit

The herd mentality must of necessity have a survivability factor; otherwise, there is little to explain the illogical repetition of the historical recurrence of human folly for behavioral anthropology.  In the modern era, being “different” is a sign of rebellion, and the cultural tidal wave of the Sixties in altering the normative landscape of music, art, religion and social customs, revealed the pinnacle of self-destructive behavior — until it became clear that being a misfit itself was merely the convention.

Behaving “normally” means that one does not make “waves”; in a highly bureaucratized society, the importance of non-innovation and complete compliance is regarded as sacrosanct.  Loud, boisterous behavior; conduct outside of the normative inflexibility of societal perspectives; that which is acceptable as quirkiness or eccentricities, as opposed to destructive explosions of tendencies bordering upon insanity; the invisible line between the misfit and clinical commitment to a psychiatric facility is a thin reed, indeed.

Often, however, it is uncontrollable circumstances which impose upon an individual the unwanted label of being an “outsider”.  Medical conditions often have a tendency to promote such a state.  It is like being labeled a plague-carrying contagion by the CDC; once whispered, the rumors begin to spread.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, being labeled a misfit becomes a “given”. Others begin to shy away from an association; some are told bluntly not to have contact with “that one”.

Loss of normative acceptance within any community or society is an important factor for success; somehow, despite all of the legal safeguards, EEO regulations and protective statutes applying to disabled individuals, the herd mentality of yore nevertheless prevails.  For Federal and Postal workers, the only pragmatic exit is to file 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.

Is it a retreat or an escape?  Not really; rather, just a means of looking out for one’s own best interests.  The medical condition itself should always be paramount in considering one’s life; attending to it properly means that one must have the time and energy to treat the underlying malady; and continuing in an employment atmosphere where acceptance is avoided, and empathy is rare, is also an unstated definition of engaging in self-flagellation.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Different Perspectives during the Federal Disability Retirement Process

Inform an individual that you suffer from Hansen’s Disease, and one might get a benign reaction, perhaps a blank stare. Convey to the same individual that you have contracted leprosy, and it is likely to evoke an expression of revulsion, and perhaps a discomfort bordering on flight.

What we say; how we say it; the social stigmas attached; and the cultural sensibilities and conditionings constraining how we become predisposed to act and react, are often determined by the perspectives which are brought to the fore.  Leprosy is the common term for Hansen’s Disease, but with it, an entire historical perspective replete with stigmas and tales and images of disfigured and contorted features and physical characteristics surround the former term, but rarely accompany the latter.

Whether and however termed, it remains one and the same. For an individual who suffers from a disability or handicap, society’s reaction similarly remains consistent and uncaring. And while laws and regulations may provide a semblance of minimally protective measures, it cannot prevent individual insensitivities from surfacing.

For Federal employees and Postal workers who need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS or CSRS, the reaction of one’s agency or department is often tantamount to informing them of either contracting leprosy, or of Hansen’s Disease.

Normally, unless a compelling reason exists otherwise, such information should be limited, and restrictively revealed only when the necessity arises, precisely because of the type of reaction one can expect from the agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

Perspectives differ; differing perspectives may often surprise; but the one similarity abounding in human nature is not too different from the beastly perspective from whence we came; and that is of the herd instinct targeting the weakest and most vulnerable — in this case, the Federal and Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, and who must consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Medical Retirement: The Coalition Forces

One hears much these days about the importance of forming a coalition of forces before engaging an offensive action; and, indeed, there is the old adage of having strength in numerical superiority, and the sense that a consensus of opinions and cooperation of numbers results in an increased chance of success.

Quantitative composites can mask a disarray of qualitative forces, and the security in numbers can somewhat compensate for lack of internal cohesion.  But what if you are the target of a coalition of forces, albeit one that is merely bureaucratic in nature, and administrative in pragmatic application?

That is how the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal Service worker often feels, when applying for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS.  And not only that, but the “attack” comes at one’s most vulnerable point:  when a medical condition is involved.

Filing for OPM Medical Retirement benefits is tantamount to going up against a coalition force:  One’s own agency; one’s own Supervisor; one’s own Human Resource department; one’s own coworkers; and then to contend with trying to obtain the proper and sufficient medical documentation in order to show eligibility and entitlement (yes, there is a distinction with a difference between the two concepts), on top of filling out the vast array of standard forms (SF 3107 series for FERS employees; SF 2801 series for CSRS and CSRS-Offset employees; SF 3112 series for all three, FERS, CSRS and CSRS Offset employees).

The medical condition itself, of course, is the vital point of vulnerability, and it is as if the coalition forces are fully aware of those weak points, and attack them relentlessly.  OPM Disability Retirement, the process of filing, and the agencies which make up the linear progression for filing — all together can appear to comprise a coalition of forces which, without necessarily working in coordinated concert of thought or action, can aggregately defeat an OPM Medical Retirement application.

The singular warrior of the target — the FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset Federal employee or U.S. Postal Worker — must use all of the administrative and legal tools available, in order to go up against such a behemoth of bureaucratic gargantuan proportions.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire