OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Except, in real life…

Isn’t that the refrain that dampens?  Whether for a child or a young adult who still possesses and retains the enthusiasm of the possible, we pour cold water upon such unfettered energy for the future yet undeclared by saying, “Except, in real life…”.  Of course, what is inserted to replace the ellipses is the clincher that determines the mood of the response.  Is it: “Except, in real life, that never happens.” Or — “Except, in real life, you’ll be broke and devastated.”

Why is it that the unspoken elongation implied by the ellipses must by necessity include a negative ending?  When have you ever heard, instead: “Except, in real life, it’s all the better!”  Is it because our creative imagination reaches far beyond what is possible in the stark reality of “real life”?

Is the universe imagined of greater potentiality than the reality of daily existence, and is that why the virtual reality of Social Media, “the Web”, interactive video games and the like are so sultry in their seductive pose — because they invite you into a world which promises greater positives than the discouraging reality of our existence in “real” time?  Is that what is the ultimate dystopian promise — a caustic alternative to Marx’s opium for the masses: not of religion, but of an alternative good that has been set up that not only promises good beyond the real good, but provides for good without consequences?

The problem is that, whatever alternative good or virtual reality that is purportedly set up to counter the reality of real time, is itself nothing more than “real life”.  It is just in our imagination that it exists as an alternative universe.  This brings up the issue of language games as espoused by Wittgenstein, as to the “reality” of an “objective world” as opposed to the one expounded by linguistic conveyances: Take the example of the blind man who has never flown a plane.  He (or she) can answer every aeronautical questions with as much technical accuracy as an experienced pilot. Query: Between the 2, is there a difference of experiencing “reality”?

For Wittgenstein, the answer is no.  Yet, the laughing cynic will ask the ultimate question: Who would you rather have as your pilot for the next flight — the blind man who has never “really flown” a plane, or the experienced pilot?

That becomes the clincher: “Except in real life…”.

For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who 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 one’s Federal or Postal job, the tendency and proclivity towards taking a dim perspective of life can be overwhelming, especially when one is dealing with the debilitating consequences of a medical condition.

Yet, it is important to maintain a balance between the cynic’s world view (that the cup is always half empty) and the eternal optimist’s myopic standard that the glass is always half full.  “Except in real life,” doesn’t always favor the former; for the Federal employee who must go up against the behemoth of OPM in filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, “real life” is not necessarily the exception, but can be the rule of a successful outcome if you are guided by an experienced attorney.

Sincerely,

Robert R.McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Medical Disability Retirement: Judgment

How does it develop?  Does youth necessarily, by definition, undermine the existence of it, and if so, why does such a “rule” become obviated by the old fool who rests his arms (and other elements of the anatomy) upon the shoulders of one who could be one’s grandchild, only not by birth?

Is life not linear, but circular, and thus do we all revert back to childish ways when old age and decrepit bodies reveal the sanctity of our fragile mortality?  When Darwinism prevailed upon the civilization of discontent, did we not recognize that ultimate reductionism to pure materialism would trickle down into a singular desire to discover the fountain of youth?

It is involved in both the process as well as the conclusion; to have good judgment is to necessarily engage in a careful weighing of all information, consider opinions and analyze relevant data, dividing significance from irrelevancies.  To make a judgment, or arrive at one, does not necessarily involve the former; one can have good judgment, yet make a bad one; but, then, retrospective evaluations would define the latter in light of the former, and vice versa.  How can quality of judgment mature without direct and consequential experience?

If a young driver, on the first day after obtaining a license, comes upon a primary roadway accessible from a side road, where cars are traveling at the maximum speed limit in both directions, including trucks and commuters rushing to meet deadlines and timelines; where, the new driver must traverse across one lane in order to make a left turn – what experience does he have to judge distance, timing, suppression of fear and capacity for quickness of movement?

Or, in either love or war, what is the foundation in which to act, or recognize the difference between hormonal ravages and meeting the lifeline of a soul mate destined for longevity; and in the trenches of the latter, to fire at the moving target that may not be a threat, but a child needing to rush to the facilities in the far-off village where rumors of enemies lurk?

What constitutes the finality of conclusions as to who possesses “good” judgment, as opposed to “bad”?  Wisdom, experience, analytical capacity and evaluative abilities – which came first, the chicken or the egg?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to make a judgment on one’s career, future, and decisions about timing, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is an area where judgment becomes crucial.  There are many legal pitfalls and obstacles throughout the administrative process, and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is a behemoth of an agency that can try one’s patience and defeat one’s purposive goals.

Lack of judgment is no crime, and not even a sin; but where such lack leads one to blindly enter into the arena of land mines, failing to consider legal representation is tantamount to the young driver who, in frustration of waiting at the busy intersection, closes his eyes and puts his foot on the gas pedal, hoping for a foolish act to defy the gods of fate, when all that was needed was for judgment to seek the advice and counsel of one wiser from years and experience.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: Dickens, Salinger & Capote, Continued…

One could easily spend a lifetime on each, separately; of the first in the trilogy, he mercifully died before the advent of the industrial revolution, whence he may have witnessed even greater upheavals of economic unrest and labor turmoil; of the latter two, they were contemporaries who followed divergent paths — with Salinger left in the hermitage of his insular world of fears, paranoia and distrust of a world which had offered only experiences which validated such churning for a tortured soul, and for Capote, a premature death prompted by a life of public destruction.

Today, we embrace the sophistication of paying strangers to listen to our meanderings of troubled psyches; for the three in question, the times for acceptance of such ways remained unkind and untested.

By standards of modernity, the childhood experiences of Dickens would have caught the attention of social services and the authorities in tow to save the poor boy; but then, we likely would never have had the pleasure of knowing his miscreant characters strewn throughout the ghettos of boundless imagination.  Of Salinger, who turned more towards mysticism in order to feed the slow withering of his wanting woes, the need to flee from the cruelty of the world resulted in the greater insularity protected only by the memories of his haunting past.  Of the three, it was Capote who openly laughed at the scorn of the world, and like the Clowns and Fools in Shakespearean tragedies, we watched as a major figure committed public seppuku in a slow and agonizing fashion.

They represent, unfortunately, the manner in which most of us live; either of haunted pasts and tortured presents, or of ongoing meanderings in troubled waters.  Then, when a medical condition hits the seemingly clean and linear timeline we live and embrace, the disruption becomes magnified with an even greater exponent of sorrow.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer because of 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 positions, 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, CSRS or CSRS Offset becomes part of the tragedy of human life.

A life cut short is one which failed to be fulfilled; and, similarly, a career shortened is one which failed to accomplish its stated goals.

But, sometimes, it is of comfort and substantive contribution to see that others — even major figures like like Dickens, Salinger and Capote — had to endure the torture of life’s fated despair.  For, in the end, there is little dissimilar in the human essence of all three in relationship to the rest of us; each suffered, lived a life of fated misery, and had to “deal” with the cruelty of the world, thereby validating Hobbes’ description that man’s life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short…”

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

The Self-Image of a Postal or Federal Employee after a Disabling Injury or Other Medical Condition

Thurber’s Walter Mitty is not an anomaly; each of us carries a fiction within our insular souls, of lives extended into a world of fantasy, trespassing between daydreams and thoughts of heroic deeds beyond the mundane routines of daily living.  Perhaps there are those in the world whose lives are so adventure-filled that such retinues of alternative parallelism within universes of imaginations becomes unnecessary; but that is a rarity, as human beings are partly unique because of the creative outreach beyond the present circumstances of life.

It is only when such creative imaginations directly encounter and contradict the reality of life; where one begins to imagine beyond the imagination, and talk and act “as if” the virtual reality constitutes the real reality, that problems can occur.   The fragile demarcation between sanity and insanity may be arbitrarily imposed by an unforgiving society, but it is a boundary wide enough to entrap the unwary.  Medical conditions have a tendency to stretch that line.  Whether because of the stresses encountered in this age of modernity and technological complexity; or perhaps the inability to adapt, where evolutionary tools have not been able to keep up with the pace of change; whatever the reasons, medical conditions force the facing of reality, the starkness of our mortality, and the need for change.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, the primary need is often the time of recuperation.  But the unforgiving nature of Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service will often refuse to grant that necessary time in order to reach a plateau of recovery.  Federal Disability Retirement benefits, filed through one’s agency (if you are still on the rolls of the agency, or have been separated but not more than 31 days has passed) and ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is a means to an end.

Often, one thinks of “disability retirement” as an end in and of itself; but because Federal Disability Retirement allows for, and implicitly encourages, the Federal and Postal worker to consider employment opportunities outside of the Federal Sector after securing Federal Medical Retirement benefits, it should instead by seen as an intermediate component of one’s life.

Making a living is a challenge enough; the loss of one’s self-image through the impact of a medical condition can be a devastating interruption to the challenge; but for the Federal and Postal employee who can secure a Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefit, the interruption can be seen as a mere interlude, for greater opportunities extending into the future, and thereby allow from the daydreams of Walter Mitty to be enjoyed as mere reflections of pleasure, instead of wishful swan songs of a closing chapter as the curtain descends upon the epilogue of one’s life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Uncertainty and Confusion: The Federal Employee’s Sense of Identity

It is through ascription from third parties, over extended time periods, where the development of self-identity takes root, through subtle, incremental ways, until one day, unnoticed, without fanfare and unheralded, it becomes a known quantity of acceptance within one’s social circles, professional associations and the greater macrocosmic world we encounter.

The day or the time can never be pinpointed; having a name plate designed and placed upon one’s desk does not provide it; and calling yourself repetitively the title or nomenclature doesn’t quite satisfy the requirements of the sought after.  That is the anomaly; one’s identity is who one is; yet, it cannot be established by the is-ness of being; it is dependent upon the declared identification of that is-ness by others who recognize the being-ness of the individual seeking the is-ness of the person within a specified time, constrained by the community of place, and bordered by the parameters of choice. “Oh, that is so-and-so”; “Yes, Linda is the Director of ____”; “Our Letter Carrier? He’s John ___”; and so does one live within the identity of third-party ascriptions, and how we develop the self-reflection of who we are.

When lost, the crisis of self-identity comes to the fore. When it is stripped prematurely; when choices must be made to abandon the identity; when external circumstances necessarily dictate a change of identity; the crisis is exponentially quantified.

For the injured Federal employee or the chronically ill Postal Worker who must 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, the crisis of identity is often inseparable from the anxieties driven by an overwhelming sense of fear, loathing, and anxiousness over a future unknown and unanticipated. For, having a medical condition which suddenly dictates the terms of one’s choices, is essentially a negation of all that one has worked for; and to top it all, one’s very identity which has been ascribed — almost without thought, presumptively and assumed throughout without daily payment or homage for retention or reapplication to maintain the worth and value of that title — is about to be stripped, lost, taken away, and thrown into the greater heap of forfeited titles.

Abandonment, release, and sudden absconding from a known and identifiable context of life; that is how it often feels when one loses one’s identity. The medical condition itself, however, must dictate the terms of disengagement; filing for Federal Disability Retirement is a necessity and the urgency of doing so will allow for that plateau of rehabilitation in order to attend to the priorities of life; for, without life, there can be no identity, whether one’s past, present, or future ascription of the honorific title is grand or insignificant. In the end, one needs to recognize that the title most prominent and of greatest priority, is the given life as recognized in one’s reflection, and not the fleeting glory attained through accolades from others, no matter how great it all felt at the time.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Ends and Beginnings

One can be pensive or mournful about it; anxiety levels likely attach to either event; one is described and defined as the conclusion and afterthought, the other, as a preface or introduction.  The end of an event necessarily results in change, as does the beginning; and perhaps it is merely a circularity of unending infinity, or a linear continuum which extends beyond the horizon of concavity.

It is merely in our own minds where bifurcations occur; our Kantian imposition of space, time and categories dividing the noumenal world into sectional differentiations and groupings which we, in our subjective states of perceptual uniqueness, view and encounter the world “out there”.  Thus do beginnings and ends, ends and beginnings, impact our lives, and the angst and anxieties which accompany such forebodings of timelessness.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker, the end of a career marks the beginning of a life change which only his or her self, family members, and close friends know about, care for, and somewhat understand on the periphery of emotional turmoils, as to the trauma such a change in circumstances can incur.

While Federal Disability Retirement benefits, wrought through proving one’s case with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, may allay some of the concerns regarding benefits, health insurance, a base annuity and income, etc., it cannot make up for the lifetime of striving and building which occurred in the private mind and public life of the U.S. Postal Worker and Federal employee.

Federal Disability Retirement represents an end, in some ways, to a career of one’s building, but also a beginning; a start for attempting to achieve that level of functionality which a medical condition robbed and thwarted; an intermediate period in which to recover, regroup, and plan for the future beyond the federal sector.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit accorded to all Federal and Postal employees who have met minimum service requirements, and allows for the Federal and Postal employee to receive a base annuity, and at the same time, to begin to build a life beyond Federal Service.  It can be a last chapter, or the first chapter, in the narrative life of the Federal employee or U.S. Postal Worker; that determination is yet to be revealed, and will only be known in the faded etchings left upon tombstones memorializing the life, accomplishments and loving relationships of those who murmur silent whisperings in the grassy knolls of time.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire