FERS Disability Retirement: The Inevitability of Change

It is a tautology; for, “inevitable” encapsulated and embraces the term “change”, and one presumes that, in applying and comprehending the word “change”, there is a sense of inevitability contained within it.

Thus do we assume certain truths which naturally follow: If you don’t like the weather, just wait a moment (for, the natural course of the universe dictates that the weather will change over time); if you are dissatisfied with your life today, ride it out (for as circumstances appear static for the moment, time will resolve many of the uncertainties faced today); and similar dictums of sagely advice.

What we are not told, however, is that which we have already accepted by experience:  That “change” is too often a negative component, and that is why we believe that things almost always change for the worse.  That is the byline for the pessimist, of course: That good things never last; everything changes for the worse.  The optimist, on the other hand, always tries to squeeze the good out of anything that worsens, and tries to see the glass as half full, instead of half empty.  Whether you are an optimist or a cynic, both accept that change is inevitable; the difference is merely in how one perceives the change.

Then, of course, there is the human element — of affirmative actions taken by an individual or a multitude of individuals in performing acts that contain or otherwise alter the course of change.

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, change is inevitable.  Whether by being placed on a “Performance Improvement Plan”, or the increasing harassment perpetrated by the Federal Agency or the Postal Service — or in the inevitability of a termination — the medical condition itself will normally and often dictate the need for change.

The “human element” is the action taken by the Federal or Postal employee in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, where the affirmative intervention of actions taken may change the ultimate outcome of life’s trials.  Yes, the inevitability of change is a given; but how that change will come about and what outcome is to be determined will depend upon the Federal or Postal employee who recognizes both the inevitability and the need for change, but moreover, of how to go about initiating the process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Postal & Federal Disability Retirement: Meaning & work

A book of very recent vintage, written by an anthropologist, uses an 8-letter epithet in its title.  While it is always dangerous to refer to something without having read it, the various book reviewers have provided enough insights to recognize that it involves a judgment upon employment, work and the meaninglessness of many jobs held by the population at large.

There would be, of course, some criticism as to the validity of such a judgment, given the nature of being an “outsider” as opposed to an “insider” — i.e., from the “outside” (e.g., the author/anthropologist himself who makes a living by selling books criticizing certain subjects) perspective, it may seem like certain types of work retain no inherent meaning, but from the “inside” perspective (i.e., those whose jobs it is to perform such tasks, and the companies, corporations and entities that require that such tasks be maintained), elements of employment that outsiders may deem meaningless may contain elaborate foundations of meaningfulness.

That was, of course, one of the criticisms thrown by Marx — of the separation of labor from the value of existence, arising coincidentally from the industrial revolution where mass production and assembly lines in factories that exploited labor resulted in a disillusioning effect because people no longer saw the fruits of one’s own labor (an aside: Does that explain why so many people think that the original source of beef, poultry and dairy products come from the storeroom of Safeway?).

How does one work, make a living and concurrently retain “meaning” in all, if not most, of the tasks performed?  Anyone who has been employed for any significant length of time comes to recognize that the three are distinct and separable: work is different from “making a living”, in that you can work for endless and tireless hours and yet not make enough wages to pay all of the bills; and whether you work long hours or not, and whether you can pay all of the debts incurred or have extra spending money at the end of each pay period, the “meaning” one derives from the work engaged is not necessarily attached to either the hours expended or the money earned.

For some, perhaps, meaning is never derived from the work itself, but merely from a recognition that the work is merely a means to an end — of performing tasks in order to earn enough wages to own a home, start a family and provide for a retirement, etc.  Or, for others, perhaps a deep-seated recognition is acceptable, that life itself is like the task that Sisyphus engaged in, and the toil of work is as the meaninglessness of rolling the boulder up another hill, only to see it roll back down again, and thus repetition allows for the futility of all tasks great or small.

One’s resolve and the will to impose meaningfulness in the face of alienation is a testament to man’s capacity to seek greater good.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the need to continue to find “meaning” in striving often is closely tied to the progressively deteriorating aspect of one’s health.  When one’s health is at issue, “meaningfulness” of one’s work may come into question, precisely because one’s capacity to view employment as a means to another end itself becomes a struggle.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, allows for one to reorient the priorities in life that should not be confused: Health, family, a sense of accomplishment, and somewhere in that mix, a career that may need to be changed, abandoned or otherwise modified because of one’s deteriorating health and the impact upon the meaningfulness of carrying on where to do so sacrifices one or more of the mixed priorities.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Medical Retirement: Agencies and the Opium Den of Yore

They were dark caverns of gatherings; residual consequences of colonialism; and though denied in polite society, the lure of addictive aroma wafting ever pervasively brought men and women repeatedly to the doors which opened for the pleasurable moment of escape.  It was like going back, and staying, despite knowing the harm it did, would do, and could wrought, even with the knowledge of the harm portending.  But the residue of the sweet scent would remain, like an invisible thread tugging at the weakest corners of the soul, to return, return, return.

Life tends to do that; of drawing people back, and holding on despite knowing that it is not good for one; and perhaps that explains, in part, those who remain in abusive relationships and engage in self-harm and behavior of self-immolation.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who remain with the same agency, in the Federal sector or the U.S. Postal Service, knowing that continuation in the same job inflicts harm and continuing, contributing deterioration of one’s medical condition, the agency itself and the U.S. Postal Service becomes like the opium den or yore.  One returns, knowing that the abusive behavior of the entity will only continue to pervade with a constancy of greater aggression.

For Federal and Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the need to separate from the Federal Service or the U.S. Postal Service — like the addict who requires the sheer determination and willpower to stay away from the opium den — often remains the only solution.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is a planned escape route in order to (A) rehabilitate one’s medical condition and (B) secure an annuity in order to attain a semblance of financial security, both for now and for the future.  As such, any Federal or Postal employee who finds that a medical condition is impacting one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, and who sees the sign of future adverse actions on the part of the agency or the U.S. Postal Service, needs to consider the steps necessary to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM.

One need not be an addict of foregone years wandering through the streets searching for an opium den in order to engage in self-inflicting behavior; it may just be that one is merely a Federal or Postal employee engaging in similar behavior, and not fully realizing the options available.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Medical Retirement: Life’s Scarring

It builds through repetition of wounding, or because it is deep, jagged, or otherwise unable to repair through normal processes of cellular regeneration.  It remains a mark of a person; over time, fading through exposure to sunlight, disappearance of discoloration, and the slow erasure of the damage done through the healing process of the linear course of a lifetime, may allow for one to forget.

Traumas, medical conditions and chronic maladies takes time to heal, and time is the commodity which society relishes, values, and measures by the worth of productivity.  It is that segment of immeasurable continuity which determines the markings of a lifetime’s work; like prehistoric epochs which we name in order to neatly fit in the existence of dinosaurs and their disappearance through volcanic and meteoric catastrophes, we bifurcate the unconquerable continuum with significations of memorable moments in time.

Medical conditions and their disruptions to lives require time for healing; and whether it is the impact of psychiatric conditions upon one’s psyche and soul, or the physical manifestation of a chronic illness or injury, that commodity of value in the world of economics remains unsympathetically beyond the reach of most.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, the acquisition of time becomes ever more important and critical as one awaits the winding morass of a Federal Disability Retirement application through the bureaucratic maze of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Bureaucracies grind forward as if time is nonexistent; but all the while, life must continue to flow, as rivers unfettered by dams and natural obstacles, the course of life cannot be interrupted by mere tragedies of fate.  The problem is, of course, that the rest of the Federal bureaucracy — agencies, coworkers, supervisors, managers, etc. — does not have the patience to wait upon Federal and Postal employees during a daunting administrative process in which it is already known that, if successful, the Federal or Postal employee will be leaving the agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

So, what is the reaction during this administrative process?  Sometimes, it results in an administrative separation; more often than not, to simply allow the Federal or Postal employee to remain on LWOP and remain forgotten, lost in the maze of time immemorial.

In the end, it is life’s scarring which remains; how one has been treated; whether the burns of fate scorched upon flesh or memory were deliberate or through an uncaring indifference. No matter; as life’s scarring is like an organic monument of one’s test of endurance, so the manner in which one approaches the wound will determine the character of an individual.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire