FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement: Avoiding emotional identification

We all do it, to one extent or another; doctors who deal with terminal children or relegated to the emergency floors; patients who must see the foreboding grief in the eyes of family members who have been told; psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists who listen “objectively” to the turmoil and trauma of other lives; the capacity for human compartmentalism is nearly inexhaustible.

Does the horse who listens to the cab driver in the brilliant short story, “Misery” (or often subtitled as, “Grief” or “To whom shall I tell my grief?”), by Anton Chekhov, have a choice in the matter?  Well, you say, the horse cannot understand the linguistic intricacies of the story told!  And, yet, we designate dogs and other animals as therapeutic breeds capable of soothing the wounded and scarred psyche of our neighbors…  The flip side of such a capacity, of course, leads to human cruelty beyond mere animalistic behavior, where the caverns of barbarism know no bounds.

The murderous son can torture in the name of the State by day, and sit with his mother at the dinner table and weep with genuine sorrow over the arthritic pain felt by infirmity and old age; and the boy who remembers the love of his mother may singe the wings of insects with pyrotechnic delight as mere gaggles of laughter unhinged by a warped conscience.  But, you say, insects and the lower order of animals don’t have “feelings” in the same way we do!  What does that statement truly mean, but merely to justify an act which — if otherwise directed at a fellow human being — would border on the criminal?

Bifurcation of lives lived is an important survival component for the health of the human psyche.  To identify with a suffering soul on an intellectual level allows for comprehension and understanding; to do so on a par at an emotional level merely subsumes one into the other, and negates the capacity to provide wisdom or advice.  That is why, in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application by a FERS, CSRS or CSRS employee, whether in a Postal capacity or as a non-Postal, Federal employee, it is important to recognize that if a Federal or Postal employee prepares the Statement of Disability on SF 3112A without representation, the subject and object of such preparation are one and the same, and therefore collectively engages in an activity of emotional identification which is difficult to avoid.  For, the person of whom the Statement of Disability is written, is the same person who is the author of the narrative on SF 3112A.

Is there a danger to be avoided?  Isn’t there an advantage in conveying the feelings by the same person who experiences the trauma and medical condition?  If objectivity is defined, in part, at least, as a reasoned perspective from multiple sides of an issue or fact, then the greater distance ensconced between the subject discussed and the narrator empowered, will allow for the attainment of that position of elevated perception.

Certainly, that is how the administrative specialist at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will be reviewing your case — by avoiding emotional identification, and trying to sort through the pain, suffering and legal implications of the Federal Disability Retirement application, hopefully prepared and formulated in as objective a manner as humanly possible.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Separation and Retirement under FERS or CSRS: The stick figure across the street

We all drew them.  They are simple figures, one-dimensional, created not only by children and uncreative hands, but by sophisticated artists who convey complexity through their uncomplicated depiction.  Upon such lack of depth, we can project an unending dearth of fillers, precisely because the simple lines invite us to increase the servile skinniness by piling a composite upon the lean figures which are mere caricatures devoid of substance.

The neighbor across the street, whom we have never met, and who is but a figure the size between forefinger and thumb, and remains the remnant of a stick figure, and continues to convey, so; and when the annoying bark of a midnight dog awakens the sensibilities of insomnia and a sleepless night, or of such a thin veil of loss of restorative slumber that wakefulness becomes a better alternative, then we can fill in the gaps of the stick figure, add some meat and substance, with diatribes of invectives piled upon curses and unimaginable energies of words rarely considered and never previously uttered.

Coworkers used to be nothing more than such stick figures — before they earned that status of enamored stature.  That is why leaving a career, cutting short a lifetime of accomplishments, and turning away from the vindictive familiarity of a workplace once loved, is so difficult for the Federal or Postal employee, whether under FERS, CSRS of CSRS Offset.

Once upon a time, the stick figures were mere appendages and afterthoughts in the life of the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker; but over time, they gained substance, girth, and an unmerited significance merely by osmosis of daily encounters.  Thus, when a medical condition hits the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker with a force of plenitude such that filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management must be considered, it is not just the separation from mere commerce and economic entanglement which must be considered, but rather, extrication from a social network of figures who have evolved, over many years and sometimes multiple decades, into caricatures amassing and aggregating personalities, comradeship, shared sense of missions accomplished, and much more.

So long as they had remained mere stick figures from across the street, the distance of time, the separation of dimensions, and the wall of strangeness allowed for an ease of abandonment.  For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who must consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through OPM, however, the process is no longer merely a wave of goodbye to the stick figure across the street; no, instead, that has become the unwanted uncle who has no other home to go to, and must by obligation be evicted despite the relationship which has developed beyond the formless caricature painted upon our own minds.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement: Dickens, Salinger & Capote

It is always dangerous to offer an overview of complexity; simplicity of explanation often teeters upon the precipice of superficiality, and when it comes to the psychology of people, we normally get it wrong.  Yet, we can try.

For Dickens, the childhood experiences of destitution and humble beginnings allowed for a magnification of love for humanity borne of cruelty in childhood.  In Salinger, we see the pent-up destruction of a young man whose anguish was molded through sights, sounds and experiences devastated by war.  And of Capote, we glean the lasting scars of rejection, first with minor cuts and burns by the divorce of his parents, then deeper in being bounced about by relatives, only to stab him with disappointment when his childhood friend, Harper Lee, received the accolades and universal love he sought so passionately, needed beyond all others, but never felt but for the loss of that which he could not embrace.

The life experiences each encountered reflected, in the end, upon the exhibition of an inner soul:  Dickens continued to provide the public with readings of characters forever loved, and embraced the sea of admiration which was the source of his limitless imaginations, borne of a world which tried to contain him with a system of caste and class.

Salinger retreated more and more into the insular world of his own safe web of privacy and secrecy, having concluded that the world was not to be trusted, that phoniness lurked in every man’s soul, and the horrors witnessed at the hands of war and concentration camps were evidence enough to deny others anything remaining.

And for Capote — we may sum it up in the cruel but crisp truism upon his death, by fellow author Gore Vidal, who quipped that it was a “good career move”.  Acting ever the fool with drunkenness and debauchery, the public destruction of a talent so extraordinary was a painful sight to witness.

Can we learn anything from these paragons of talent?  Or, are such characters merely of our own creations, snickering at the fact that, even where seemingly boundless talent exists and opportunities reflect limitless choices, self-destruction nevertheless becomes the teleology of choice.  At a minimum, they reveal to us the complexity of human essence, and that what people react to on the outside barely scratches the surface of what remains within.

And this is the same for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are harassed and intimidated in the workplace, when a medical condition results in the necessity to prepare, formulate and file 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.  For, the coworkers, managers and supervisors who treat the Federal or Postal worker as nothing more than a nuisance through loss of productivity, fails to address the core value of the individual suffering at the hands of consequences not chosen through self-destructive behavior, but merely because of fate of circumstances.

The key for the Federal and Postal worker both, is to choose a path which refuses to submit to self-immolation resulting from the negative experiences at the hands of others; rather, to embrace the love of others as Dickens did, and not retreat into the insular retardation of life as Salinger proposed, or the reverberating echoes made by the empty bottle of alcohol, drowning in later life as Capote consumed, shuddering with the laughter of others and snickering for want of fools in his diminishing stature, ever losing the love which he sought so selfishly.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Government Agency: Alliances

Meritocracies are built upon an ideal of competency; quickly, however, as reality creeps into the ineffable truth of what actually occurs, people tend to fall back upon the comfort zones of unspoken alliances, allowing for protective measures tantamount to the nuclear paradigm of mutually assured destruction in saving one’s own skin.

The person who goes to work with quiet competency believes that hard work and incremental contribution will ultimately win out the day; the hardy laughs outside of the office echoing down the hallway with vague reverberations of mirthless camaraderie; the social events invited with a mere pop-of-the-head mention in passing by, but quickly with the added disclaimer of, “Oh, it won’t be much fun, but you’re certainly invited,” as if you are offered a discount coupon which needs only to be cut out and brought with you, but no scissors are provided and tearing such conveniences outside of the dotted line is considered in bad taste; and the Monday recounting of the get-togethers with back-slapping tales of associations forged and assuredly irrelevant to the work at hand, but somehow those quiet stares held for a moment too long between unspoken alliances concretized in what once was described as backroom deals filled with cigar smoke and consideration exchanged under poker tables, comes back to haunt in subtle ways in misdeeds of unaccounted time.

When a crisis hits the fan, favoritism is always denied, despite the facts which betray the truth.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must consider preparing for another vocation because the one presently positioned is no long viable, resulting from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties at the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, it often becomes evidence that the leeway given for approving FMLA in the meantime, or liberal leave policies, redistribution of workloads in order to temporarily accommodate or suspend many of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, is based not upon laws, regulations or those pesky statutes of alleged protective shrouds proudly declared by politicians from both sides “of the aisle”; rather, it is as it always has been — upon the feudal fiefdoms of alliances forged upon meritless applications of weekend romps.

The payment for hard work is the salary one receives; the “extras” depend upon the discount coupons one has discarded over those many years.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the time to consider preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is when the medical condition begins to impact and prevent one’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job; and when the afterthought of alliances left unattended results in regrets of unquantified good-will, one should remember that meritocracy is best judged in the faces of a family spent with, and not in the empty beer cans of remorse and despair.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire