Disability Retirement under FERS & CSRS: The Kokeshi doll

They are wooden dolls that are colorful, with expressions painted upon that remain frozen except for the change that naturally occurs when viewed from differing angles of sight, reflecting altered perspectives and modified vantage points depending upon one’s own emotions.  They sit on tabletops, shelves and can be a child’s playmate, though parents often view them more valuably as display items rather than taking the chance that the little brother may play them as reenactments of a prior war imagined to be fought by banging pieces of wood and throwing them against the yet-undamaged wall.

The heads are often disproportionately larger than the remainder of the body; and the rest and remainder, often just a block of smoothed wood with hands painted in a one-dimensional pattern, revealing no motion but straddling limply alongside the rectangular shape, like a submissive figure shuffling down life’s difficult trials in the daily struggles we all face.

The Kokeshi doll never complains, but always delights; never talks back, but eternally agrees; and never fails to bring light into a dark corner, but forever allows for a reminder that it is the trivial joys of life that make for worthwhile endurance in times of misgivings.  We are all, in many ways, expected to be like these inanimate objects that we have projected our own emotional well-being upon.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal employee’s job, the fact that you are no longer able to remain impassive, implacable, disaffected and unmoved by the manner in which the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service has begun to treat you, is not an extraordinary insight to possess and be suddenly enlightened by.

Though we may enjoy the delightful colorfulness of a Kokeshi doll, we cannot expect to be nor act like one.  It was always the productivity released, the competence revealed and the level of contribution inputted that made the Federal or Postal employee “valuable” to a Federal agency or a Postal facility; but when a medical condition hits a person, it is simply “not right” that the Federal agency or U.S. Postal Service should treat the Federal or Postal employee as merely another Kokeshi doll who should remain quiet and unperturbed standing in a corner.

Thus, when the Federal agency or Postal facility fails to treat the Federal or Postal employee as something more than the inanimate object a Kokeshi doll ultimately is, it may be time to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, before that rough-and-tumble younger brother comes along and really begins to mistreat that block of wood.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Benefits: Escaping reality

In some sense, everyone does it; in another, no one can.  For, in a general, generic meaning of the term, to “escape reality” is to merely engage in an activity that allows one to take a break from the ordinary and mundane, as in going to a movie, watching television, playing a video game or engaging a game of chess. In the same vein of meaning, however, one could argue that such leisurely pastimes constitute a reality no less real than working, dealing with life in other ways and attending to one’s daily duties and obligations – it is simply in a different “form”.

Daydreaming, getting lost in an imaginary world through reading a book, of even sleeping – these also constitute a form of “escaping reality”, if the term implies a narrow meaning manifesting the daily grind of work, family and surrounding obligations.  Going to school, surfing the internet or concocting plans for grandiose schemes – these, too, can be considered “escaping reality”, inasmuch as they do not put food on the table or pay bills; and thus do we face the reality that people possess different meanings when they make critical remarks that are triggered to demean an activity by making the charge that engaging in X is nothing more than an attempt to escape reality.

There are, of course, true escapes that are harmless, and those that, if entertained over too long a period of time, can become an entrenched harm that may be irreversible.  Taking a dream vacation to an isolated island deep in the Caribbean Isles can be a healthy escape from the daily reality of work and exhaustion; imagining a life different from one’s own, through a limited period of daydreaming, may be an acceptable form of transcending the turmoil of a day’s trial; but creating a world where one’s loved one, lost from the reality of this mortal world, is still present through one’s imagination and will of existence, may be considered a sickness when it begins to impede the ability and capacity to take care of one’s own needs.

There is a fine line between healthy escapes and detrimental plunges into the surreal world of the imagination.  How one takes upon the challenges of a medical condition is often a delicate teetering amidst the boundaries of health and unhealthiness.  We would all like to will away medical conditions, but the reality is that the real-ness of the injured, sick or otherwise deteriorating body, mind or both, cannot ultimately be avoided.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, the idea of preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application is often a step towards recognizing the reality that there is no curative power that will allow the Federal or Postal employee to continue to work in one’s chosen career, and that 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 merely a matter of inevitable time.

Delaying the process, procrastinating the preparatory steps, or avoiding the issue altogether – all are a form of escaping reality.  Whether such an escape is a healthy precursor to the reality which must be faced, only the Federal or Postal worker who is engaging such an escape can tell, as the reality of one’s future may rest upon the very escape afforded by filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Of things (which should be) hidden

Perhaps it is a moment of repose, when relaxation allows for an unflattering silhouette or an act with hands which reach for things not publicly accepted; or of an insight into the depths of a soul, better left concealed, congealing unexpectedly before one’s eyes despite best or better attempts to suppress or repress.

We all assume certain aspects of a person’s life, and when they appear not within the slice of images presented to the public eye, we do not take notice because the presumption remains throughout.  Thus do bathroom scenes remain irrelevant throughout most of the history of film, and have only made their debut as titillating artistry masked as prurient creativity encroaches in subtle increments upon our sensibilities (with the obvious exception, of course, of Hitchcock’s scene of the curtained shadow).

Somehow, despite our incessant clatter of protestations to the contrary, the privacy of our lives become exposed and elevated to a pedestal of a declarative rumination, like the child-actor who accepts the adoration of public applause in place of the denied love of a parent.  The lowest of our essence tends to congregate in bunches of time, place and people; perhaps, as like attracts like, and similarities of venturesome teleologies aggregate for symbiosis of common causes, so the ugliness of humanity seems always to find its way where innocence abounds and the naive output is counterbalanced by the depravity of so many soulless zombies.

So it is in the workplace, where the ugliness of human character tends to reveal itself.  But that we wish for privacy, and for the sheer meanness of the human spirit to remain hidden.  The skin is an organ which covers, and for that we may be thankful — as the inner organs of man were never meant to be exposed for viewing where beauty is replaced with the stark reality of who we are.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must continue to go to work despite the deteriorating and progressive presence of a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, the persistent exposure to things which should remain hidden, often becomes a constancy of unrelenting corridors of shame.

Just as divorce merely widens the microscopic fissures of that which the child already sensed, and the secrets leading to wars were already well-known by enemies and allies alike, so the facade which allowed for amiability and camaraderie suddenly crumbles, and the ugliness of humanity exposes itself.  Why is it that of those things once hidden, they suddenly become public and unconstrained?  And in the very midst of medical conditions and human plight which should engender empathy and consolation, the increase in harassment and progressive punishment exponentially facilitates.

For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who finds him or herself in such a situation, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management becomes not merely the least of options remaining, but the best alternative to a deteriorating circumstance.

And of those things which should have remained hidden?

Like vestiges of timeless reruns from an era veiled by innocence, the reels of fading images defy the reality of our day, and the best course of action is to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to OPM so that the escape hatch can invite a gust of fresh air where once the stuffiness of a stale and toxic environment was suffocating the very life out of our soulful existence.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Employee Medical Separation: The abstract concept of “the other”

Existentialism could only have arisen from the ashes of nihilism; Western Philosophy, spanning the spectrum of metaphysics, epistemology, Rationalism, Empiricism and the tradition of questioning origins, essences and the compendium of who we are and what it all means, does not lead to the natural annihilation of intellectual curiosity.  But Existentialism, does.  Why?  Because Existentialism is an emotional reaction, rather than a rational rebuttal.

From the horrors of Nazi concentration camps and the denigration of human dignity reduced to mere abstractions, the philosophy of negation of which it is characterized, is more of a “sense” approach than a logical methodology of comprehension and understanding.  Thus, while traditional philosophy was always denoted by a curiosity towards abstraction, Existentialism was pulled back by a retractive revulsion because of the alienating impact of conceptualization.

That is why the most powerful explication of the philosophy of Existentialism is found in a novel by Camus (reference, The Stranger or The Plague), and not in reading Sartre’s meandering explanation (Being and Nothingness) of a confused attempt to systematize the emotive side of man.  Thus, in reading Camus, one gets the “sense” of abandonment, separation, distance and alienation of man from the community of others; whereas, in reading the traditional philosophical works — take any page from Plato, Aristotle or the Medievals — one enters an universe of order, systematized approach, and methodological rationalization emanating from curiosity and questioning.

The two approaches, however, are not unrelated; for, it is precisely because of the traditional training of discussing concepts in abstract form (and thereby separating the thought-process from human touch and interaction) that disregarding the humanity of a living being could be achieved.  In more provincial terms, it is easier to be cruel to a concept, than to one’s own child or spouse.  And, indeed, that is how we survive in advancing our purposive actions of harassment and sheer meanness; by objectifying “the other”, we can bifurcate our minds and categorize the subject into something less.

Supervisors do it to workers and underlings; no longer is the worker a fellow human being, but “that ## % !!”.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the lessons learned and gleaned from the reactive lens of Existentialism may be twofold:  First, don’t expect sympathy from the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service because you have a medical condition (that, unfortunately, is probably self-evident and a “given” already), and Second, do not expect cooperation or efficiency to suddenly prevail when engaging the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, merely because the need to obtain Federal OPM Disability Retirement should in and of itself touch a sense of empathy.

In neither case will a positive response be evoked.

Ultimately, the bureaucratic process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a surreal experience, and one in which the sense of alienation felt by Existentialism is encountered throughout.  That is because, in the end, the Federal or Postal applicant in a Federal Disability Retirement case is none other than a mere “other”, and no more than an abstraction to be gotten rid of, like the distraction you became when once you were no longer fully productive on the assembly line of life’s refuse of illegitimacy.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire