Federal Disability Retirement Law: Loss of Meaning

What it is that motivates a person to achieve greatness; whether the factor of that which does, or purports to be, and to what extent the outward articulation of the elements of a driving force corresponds with the esoterically objective truth underlying the learned and expected statements for public consumption; these, we may never know.

Most of us engage in repetitive monotony of actions; whether by fear of societal retribution, the judgment of peers, a sense of responsibility and obligation; or, perhaps even by sheer ignorance and stupidity, where the instinctive drive is merely based upon the base hunger for accumulation of material objects; as self-reflection is rarely a consideration of serious intent, so the onset of what some deem a mid-life crisis is often nothing more than a pause in unthinking acts of greater thoughtless chasms in void and vacuity.

Medical conditions, and the impact of a debilitating injury or disease, can be the prompting nudge for change and upheaval. Whether because a medical condition forces one to consider a redistribution of life’s priorities, or merely because they interrupt the capacity and ability to continue in an unthinking manner; regardless of the motive, change becomes an inevitable consequence of an unexpected medical condition.

For Federal employees and U.S. 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, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal Worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is an option of limited choice.

For, as the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, so the dependency upon the agency to provide a “reasonable accommodation” is ultimately an act of futility.  “Reasonable accommodation” is merely that which is accorded in order to perform all of the essential elements of the job; it does not do away with any of the elements, and thus is rarely conceivable, and practically impossible to implement.

Federal and Postal workers who are prevented from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, at least have the option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits. Many in the private sector have no such benefit, and are thus left to disparate means and desperate devices.  Often, the onset of a health condition becomes a crisis of meaning, where the medical condition itself compels the Federal or Postal worker to question the meaning and value of one’s work and accomplishments.  But the loss of meaning need not occur as a necessary or inevitable consequence.

Federal Disability Retirement accords an opportunity of a second bite at the proverbial apple; there is life after Federal Medical Retirement for those who get beyond the long and arduous bureaucratic process, and the meaning of one’s existence need not be the harbinger of fate, but merely a door opened for future endeavors of thoughtful exercises and prioritizing of values.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset: To Fly a Kite

It is the epitome of a pleasurable moment, of engaging a mindless activity which spurs thought; and so to fly a kite is to soar with winds beyond our reach.  Does a life lived vicariously live life lifelessly?  As the flapping breeze at heights unreachable carries it airborne with but a thread to preclude its sudden spiraling away and into an abyss of telephone wires, treetops and treacherous heights of threatening snags, it is that hand which holds steady the coil of connection which controls length, movement, and steadiness of stability.

How tenuous is the reed of life?  When once youth masked the viscosity of existence, where mortality seemed but a yarn of empty rocking chairs and tall tells in the shadows of the flickering embers of a warm fireplace; and how the tenacity we maintained with vigor and vitality concealed those fears we harbored as we set about to conquer the challenges of an uncertain world; but when the fanfare subsided, and the promises of unspoken ceremonies fell silent before the finish line, the realization that life is but a short span of eternity where worth and value can be embraced only by measuring the momentary warmth of a hug or holding a gaze with a loved one for a millisecond beyond the practical, then does one finally achieve a balance of peace in a universe of turmoil.

The holidays tend to bring such realizations to the fore; so do medical conditions and their impact upon body, mind and soul.  If by “soul” we attribute, just for a moment, not that controversial component of man where existence beyond the ephemeral world of matter must by belief encompass eternity, but instead, the aggregate of man’s complexities:  of mind, physical body, consciousness, the heart and vegetative divisions, etc. — then it is indeed the totality of man who is impacted by a medical condition.

For Federal and Postal employees who find themselves with a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the tenuous reed of life becomes exponentially magnified because of the stoppage of career, intervention of life’s goals, and interruption of all of the “things” that need to be done.  An interrupted life is like the proverbial ship without sails; the moorings have been damaged, and one senses a drifting without control.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a pragmatic step for the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal Worker who cannot perform each of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position.  When a medical condition impacts a Federal or Postal employee, it is the pragmatic steps — the ones which can actually realize a practical outcome — which counts for something.

If you are a Federal or Postal employee under FERS, and you have at least 18 months of Federal Service, then you have already met the minimum eligibility requirement to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  If you are a dinosaur under CSRS or CSRS Offset, then you have likely already met that requirement, anyway.  All that is necessary is to put together a case of proving that one’s medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, by a preponderance of the evidence.

For, in the end, it is that thin thread which guides the pleasure of flying a kite which stands between chaos and connectivity; letting go should not be the only option; it may just be a little tug which is all that one needs, in order to steady the flight of life and retain that childhood sense of invincibility.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire