Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: Contested lives

We hear of such terms in specific linguistic contexts; of a “contested” divorce, or that a variable version of a testimony or evidence has been “contested”; or that the results of a certain race or game has been contested.  If you drop the affix placed after the stem of the word (i.e., the suffix or the “ed”), and emphasize the first syllable, it becomes a noun; whereas, if you engage in the identical mental exercise but intone upon the second syllable, it becomes a verb.

As a noun, it is normally relegated to a challenging game, a sport or perhaps some duel; when applied with the second word in the title above, it takes on a wider meaning that encompasses an endless spectrum and, unless further delineated, undefined in a disturbing way.  If denoted in a general sense, as in the statement, “All lives are contested,” the generic meaning loses its force; for, it is a truism which is rather inane in that, yes, all lives have facets of contested issues, and in that sense, it becomes a “meaningless” statement of trope and triviality.

Yet, that truism is something which we all experience.  When one hears the complaint, “Life is a series of conflicts and is a contest of endurance,” we nod our heads and know exactly what that means.  We all recognize that our lives encompass a consistent effort to contest (emphasis on second syllable), and that the contest of life is to endure (emphasis on the first syllable); and we must persevere to contest it (again, emphasis on the second syllable).

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer 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 one’s Federal or Postal job, the truism that there are contested lives is a simple fact.  It is not just a matter of going to work – rather, it is going to work with a medical condition.  It is not just going to work and doing one’s job – it is, moreover, doing that and contending with a medical condition, as well as the growing harassment from coworkers, supervisors, and the Agency and Postal Service as a whole.

Preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be ultimately submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is also a matter of a contested life – for the bureaucratic process with OPM is an embattlement of sorts, and it only reinforces that inane, trite and trivial aspect of the statement, “We all live contested lives.”

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Those spaces in between

Between each word; separating being from nothingness; that which allows for something is contingent upon the void that distinguishes, and without the lack there can be no substance.  Time doesn’t exist without space for movement of bodies of mass; such stillness echoes the lack of reverberating sounds, where waves bounce from one object to the next, and where Oneness of universe means that the clock no longer matters.  Of life, we imagine the same: there are interludes, but we tend to skip the pain and sorrow between the covers of hidden privacy.

Thus do we abide by the antiseptic, sterilized version of our scripted thoughts within ourselves:  birth; a relatively uneventful childhood; completion of educational goals; a career; retirement; and, despite a last gasp in attempting to defy the rules of mortality, death and a funeral projected where weeping and wailing echoes through the indignities of relatives uncaring during the days of living, with sweet revenge of the last laugh leaving behind the mystery of the beyond.

But what of those spaces in between?

Of chronic medical conditions; of pain beyond mere superficial groans; of hospitalizations, having tubes inserted into every imaginable orifice and pricked, prodded and pummeled with tests and artificial means for purposes of extending breath, heartbeat and pulse.

Only in recent times have we breached the decorum of unspoken sensitivities, and allowed for scenes in movies to reveal private functions behind bathroom doors beyond brushing one’s teeth or combing the hair over that bald spot – not that the audience necessarily needs to view such scenes, but somehow, such depictions apparently manifest the avant-garde in each of us and reveals the sophistication we all sought, like days of old when smoking cigarettes with those ridiculously long-looking holders was the trend to follow, merely because someone else did it, and we were told that such was the fashion of the day and represented the height of elegance in posture.

It is, at least in movies, those spaces in between that the characters presumably go to the bathroom, end up in the hospital and suffer in quiet agony; we just don’t see much, or any, of it, except in recent times.  And so we are filling those spaces in between; not merely with more punctuations, or hyphenations unnecessary but to bridge the gap between words and concepts, but in real life as well, by recognizing that life rarely follows a clean sequence of uninterrupted successions of advancement and teleological awareness, but often has detours, hiccups and sometimes valleys beyond which no one else would want to venture.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, those spaces in between are already known and recognized.  For, the medical condition itself constitutes the empty pauses between many of life’s successes, and the challenges faced in deciding to end a career otherwise fruitful and productive, to be now replaced with a fight against the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to force them to acknowledge eligibility and entitlement to Federal Disability Retirement benefits, is itself the “filling in” of those very spaces we all must face, in between.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire