Federal Disability Retirement Benefits: Shame

Anthropological commentators have variously pointed out that the human being is the only one of the social animals to exhibit the characteristic of shame, and then quip with a spirit of mocking sharpness, “and the only ones who have a need to be”.  But the problem of shame is that the responsiveness exhibiting that overwhelming sense of self-immolation is often misdirected. Shame, or being ashamed, can occur resulting from the collective behavior of others, where a majority opinion can persuade through ostracizing, manifesting group hostility, or through persistent hammering.  It can even be through the misinterpretation of the normative behavior and conduct of acceptable societal customs and social rules of engagement.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, such a misdirected response is often seen when a medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.  For the Federal or Postal employee who feels such “shame”, there is often a dual track of thought-processing:  A.  The Federal or Postal employee is unable to do all of the positional duties assigned and expected, and as a result, one feels “shame” for that lack and growing inability, and B. the medical condition itself makes one “ashamed” because it constitutes a reduction of the whole person, and the societal stares and hushed whispers reinforce one’s self-image that, somehow, one is “less” than the aggregate shown by the collective others.  And there is often a third, where:  C.  As work has become the source and sole reservoir of one’s sense of worth and accomplishment, so the potential loss of it results in a growing sense of shame, embarrassment and self-hatred.

Indeed, the loss, or the potential loss, of one’s identity at the workplace is a profoundly devastating undermining of one’s own self image.  But that is where the misinterpretation of values originates; for, by placing so much emphasis upon the goal of a herd’s collective mission, one fails to properly prioritize an individual’s sense of self-worth.  Health, and the need to recognize one’s place within the greater context of society, must always be taken as the priority of life’s misgivings.

For the Federal or Postal worker who has misinterpreted the importance of work over health and family, preparing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often a difficult trial to undertake.  But it must be so, and recognition that compassion is the antidote to the false sense of shame experienced when the fate of a medical condition begins to deteriorate one’s health, capabilities and ability to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, is to merely be human, and it is not even erring which acknowledges such humanity, but a condition of life which is neither the fault of the Federal or Postal employee, nor within the control of the future, but within the soft breath of the gods who smile upon the infirm with love and empathy — those true attributes of heavenly concerns.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Vows and Contracts

People take vows for various reasons: vows of silence, as a satisfaction of a prerequisite for initiation into a religious order; vows of marriage, for the union intended for a lifetime of commitment and self-sacrifice; vows of revenge, for a personal vendetta in retribution for actions suffered against one’s self or on behalf of another; and similar vows of unremitting focus until the satisfaction of such enduring commitment is accomplished.  Similarly, contracts are entered into each day, across the globe, between individuals, corporate entities and groups formed specifically for business and personal reasons.

Is there a difference between a “vow” and a “contract“?  On a superficial level, the former is viewed as a “higher order” semblance of the latter.  In a deeper sense, that is not only true, but all the more so — or, in erudite form, a fortiori.  For, to vow is to give of one’s self in totality of being; it is a gift of one’s self, often without any expectation of a similar receiving.

In contract law, of course, it is precisely the comparative analysis of a “consideration” provided and received, which determines the viability and sustainability of the agreement itself.  Far too often, Federal and Postal employees see their commitment to an agency or the U.S. Postal Service as a “vow” in employment, as opposed to a contract freely entered into, and just as freely abrogated when the need arises. This is seen when a Federal or Postal employee suffers from a medical condition and must consider the need to file 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 Federal or Postal employee treats the job as one of a “vow”, as if the significance of clinging on to the position is of greater importance than the detriment manifested to one’s health.  Federal Disability Retirement benefits, offered to all Federal and Postal employees under FERS or CSRS, is merely a contractual annuity accorded based upon the status of the individual as a Federal or Postal employee, and further proven by a preponderance of the evidence.  No vows have been exchanged — neither of the silent type, implicit, nor explicit, and certainly not of an unequivocal or unremitting nature.

Contractual terms are meant to be asserted; and one of the provisions of the “contract” for all Federal and Postal employees, is that when the Federal or Postal employee suffers from 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 job, then eligibility for Federal Disability benefits may be invoked.

To accept a contractual provision is never to take advantage of anything, unfairly or otherwise; rather, it is merely a satisfaction of terms. To do otherwise, and to confuse X as Y, as in mistaking a contract for a vow, is merely to bathe in a puddle of muddle-headed thinking.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: A Wrong Sense of Shame

Having a sense of shame can reveal a heightened level of moral superiority; but as with all things emanating from the Good, those who lack a sensitivity to propriety will take full advantage of a misguided loyalty to ethical conduct.  Work and a duty to one’s vocation is a guiding principle for most Federal and Postal employees.  That is precisely why filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, is anathema to the Federal and Postal employee.

The committed Federal and Postal employee often has a warped and misguided sense of his ethical duty to work, and will allow for a medical condition to continue to exacerbate and debilitate, at the expense of one’s deteriorating health, all for the sake of commitment, devotion, and high ethical sense of duty to one’s mission for the agency.

Supervisors and managers recognize this, and take full advantage. But the Federal and Postal employee must by necessity understand that Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit accorded to all Federal and Postal employees precisely for the underlying reasons offered: When a medical condition impacts one’s health such that one can no longer perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement is meant to be accessed precisely because it has always been part of the benefits package for all Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS or CSRS.

Commitment to a mission is indeed commendable; blind devotion at the expense of one’s own health is somewhat less so — unless one counts the sneering approval of agencies who see such sacrifices as mere paths to the slaughterhouse.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: An Altered Life of Habituation

Loss of stature and status can come in many forms; we think too often in terms of financial status, of material belongings, where we live, with whom we associate, and the subtle evaluation of social consciousness in relation to our neighbors, friends and family.  But as work constitutes a majority of the time we expend, we often fail to understand the profound impact that we subconsciously place upon the status and standing we perceive within the employment arena.  This is closely related to the conceptual viability of bifurcating our “time at work” and “closing the door behind us” when we exit our place of employment, get into the car, and begin the commute home.

More and more, of course, the traditional dichotomy between work and personal life has been destroyed with the intrusive nature of email, smart phones, laptops and the constant need to keep in communication via electronic media.  The sanctity of the home life is deteriorating; weekends are merely interludes of a slower pace of work; and Sundays are rarely categorized as days of unreachable separateness.

With all traditional social and employment walls disintegrated, it becomes all the more profoundly insidious when one’s employment is severely impacted by a medical condition.

For Federal and Postal employees who must consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the change from the status of “Federal employee” or “Postal Worker” to one of “Disability annuitant” can have a devastating psychological impact. For, in the end, it is not merely a change of status and stature; it is a profound alteration of a way of life, arrived at through habituation without thought, mindlessly embracing the insidiousness of technological intrusions which we never asked for and rarely sought.

The negative view for the Federal and Postal Worker is to myopically observe this profound change in sadness; the positive outlook is to have a fresh perspective, and to actually take the opportunity to use the time for rehabilitation of one’s health, perhaps just to be able to — for a brief moment in the history of one’s life — stop and smell the proverbial flower on the way out of the office door.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire