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: The vibrancy factor

There is much talk these days about energy, vibrancy, health and stamina; what defines it, that which best represents it, and to whom we attribute the importance of superficial concerns.  This is an age of appearances, and it has been now for many decades.  We still hear talk about the disjunctive opinions embracing the first televised debates between Kennedy and Nixon – how, for those who viewed it, the former “looked good” and the latter appeared “drawn and shady”, with dark shadows under shifty eyes in contrast to the well-tanned presentation of the former.

For those who didn’t have access to a television, or otherwise sat forlornly in a corner pub sipping the froth and listening somewhat distractedly, the voices emitted from the trusty radio transmission evoked a different opinion and perspective:  Nixon won the debate, and Kennedy sounded less confident, less knowledgeable on the substantive issues.  So, who was right (note the past tense, as most who were old enough to pass such monumental judgments have already entered through the corridors of Dante’s Circle)?  Or, is the judgment of “right” versus whatever other categorization one may presume, of irrelevance, and it is all a pot of bosh left to subjective opinions cascading down waterfalls of opinionated tropes?

There is, in the end, a vibrancy factor which we all care about, whether or not it shows, or to what television personality we may attribute such sustained bursts of energetically deplorable innuendoes.  “Charisma” was associated with the Kennedy presidency (likely imparted by the conspirators and inner circle of advisors and political hacks), and the entrails of Nixon’s later administration became an emblem of who we are today (yes, he must be turning in his grave when comparing notes with today’s standards as to what constitutes high crimes and misdemeanors resulting in insinuations of impeachability).

For the rest of us, however, the vibrancy factor is a very simple matter:  Do we live life with a liveliness of hope, or dread each day with the burden of despair?  That simple bifurcation defines most of us.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition burdens and drags, and depletes and destroys – the choices are fairly simply and straightforward:  Stay, walk away with nothing, or file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

The first of the tripartite is rarely a true option if Federal Disability Retirement is being contemplated because of a medical condition; the second, barely to be considered because of the time already invested and the question of one’s future stability is asked; and so the Federal or Postal employee suffering 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, must ask and consider the viability of the “third option” – Federal Disability Retirement.

For, in the end, the vibrancy factor rules us all, whether because we attribute self-worth and society’s superficial concerns to the advent of television or not; “vibrancy” has to do with life itself, and the innate charisma of a soul battered and pushed about, but rarely beaten until life’s loss of vibrancy takes its ultimate toll.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Government Employment: Life’s Joke

The funniest line in literature comes from Carl Sandburg’s “Potato Face Blind Man” stories, where he describes the reason for the wooden mug:  “There is a hole in the bottom of it.  The hole is as big as the bottom.  The nickel goes in and comes out again.  It is for the very poor people who wish to give me a nickel and yet get the nickel back.”

Satire has often been overly-discussed, and attempting to explain why a particular scene, line or story is amusing, is somewhat like trying to explain to a Martian why Bradbury’s chronicles fascinated the young:  it just is, and either you get it, or you don’t.  It is, perhaps, the incongruence between expectation and reality; of a projection of incommensurability that occurs when a portrayal doesn’t quite meet the anticipation of “should”.

In Sandburg’s description, two such anomalies occur:  First, that the figure who holds the mug does so with the expectation that passersby will drop a nickel out of a sense of pity; but second, and poignantly portrayed, that the tables are turned around by the one who allegedly is begging for the nickel, in that he recognizes the empathetic component that there are others who are poorer in the world who also want to give, but needs the nickel more than the beggar to whom it is given.  Thus, the hole on the bottom where the nickel given drops back for the giver, yet the act of giving has been consummated.

Of course, in modernity, perhaps such innocence of satiric portrayal is no longer thought to contain humor; that, as the ethics of inequality and financial disparity have given rise to resentment, and the inane concept of “fairness” today pervades the political spectrum throughout, the focus would be upon the fact of maliciously describing a person with a disability in terms which might betray mocking jest.  But that is clearly not what Sandburg meant by it; and, indeed, it was because he believed that his generation lacked children’s stories which taught lessons of virtue and behavioral uprightness, that he engaged the literary device of satire.

Life itself is difficult enough without undermining the joy of a joke recognized.  A funny line, a witty scene, a belly-laugh from a picture of incongruence; such moments allow for innocence and the lightness of being to prevail as an interlude to an otherwise dreary continuum of surviving in a world which shows but cold shoulders twisted and followed by phony smiles to cut the throats of back-turned bystanders.

Such experiences, of course, are not new to the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who suffers through the meanness of workplace hostility and harassment at the hands of supervisors and coworkers, merely because a medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of his or her positional duties.  Whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, there comes a time when the Federal or Postal worker must decide to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in order to escape the diatribes of the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

Carl Sandburg’s joke was of a time when true empathy was understood by all; unfortunately, in modernity, the nickel which was meant to be returned to the giving passerby, would today be snatched up by wolves in waiting, where the lambs who once roamed the hillside of life’s joke no longer gather upon the pastures of a forgotten innocence forever lost.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The work left undone

If life were merely a series of projects attended to, completed and accomplished with a declaration of unassailable certitude, like a period at the end of a sentence, the final paragraph of a novel, or silence upon a speaker’s conclusion; of a linear progression forever with movement on a horizontal graph; but it is not.

Instead, the circularity of life’s problems, of concerns regurgitated and revisited because unattended or otherwise reappearing, like the aunt who visits unannounced and the uncle exhaustively referred to as the “black sheep” of the family who appears at one’s doorstep with suitcase in hand; it is the boil behind the leg that keeps resurfacing, where the ill winds of unexpected vicissitudes keeping getting a second chance when redemption is unwanted and uncalled for, but nevertheless reappears for the salvation of one’s soul.

And, in some sense, it is a salvation, isn’t it?  For, if life were a series of work completed, never to be revisited but always working without need for repairs, we would realize the finite nature of the world and care not to attend to the past.  Instead, it is precisely the work left undone which compels us to keep plugging along, to rewrite the list by the items we crossed off and the ones we reordered; and it tells something about one, in the manner of how that list is reorganized.

Do the items yet remaining get full status at the top of the yellow pad in the new order of priorities, or does it remain again relegated to those unwanted and undesired categories, like the illegal immigrant somehow existing but forever ignored and unnoticed, without the full rights and privileges of the legitimized constructs arriving by arbitrary choice?  We were taught as children that the work left undone reflected a character flaw, but somehow, as we grew older, we realized that but for those things left asunder, the incompleteness of life would have no value, no meaning, and ultimately no reason to live for.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents him or her from performing all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the work left undone often presents a dilemma of sorts: the completion of one’s career becomes untenable; each day, one falls further and further behind; and of life’s lesson ingrained from childhood, that we should always finish the plate of food we are served, cannot be fulfilled, and so we ruminate and worry, fret and flounder in this farcical mythology of linear fiction.

For such Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is the best alternative and only real solution available.  For, what we were never told is that the work left undone is merely in the eye of the beholder, as beauty depends upon the perspective of the audience and worth upon the buyer who desires; and that the Westerner’s world-view of a linear-based universe is certainly not shared by the Easterner who comprises the greater part of the infinite panoply, as represented by Shiva’s circle of fire.

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

 

Medical Retirement from Government Employment: The Daily Diatribe

This is an angry time.  Contrary to the appearance of sophistication and quiet aplomb conveyed by shoulders shrugged and ignorance attributable, the festering anger which forms a quaking (or quacking?) undercurrent, like shifting undersea tectonics just before a major earthquake which then results in a tsunami, the fact is that the fragile threads of common courtesy and conventional manners have disappeared over time, in increments of eroded concerns, likened to the moth which remained hidden in the darkness of a closeted space, eating away quietly at the fine costumes of societal consternation.

Conversations and rational discourse are replaced by daily diatribes of sputtering infamy; yes, Hitchens was a contrarian, but we miss his voice precisely because he could do it without us knowing it, and in addition with that fading British accent that always put a stamp of civility upon the acerbic wit.

Whether anger and certain medical conditions have any connection, will likely never be established as a causal certainty.  But for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, escape from the cauldron of daily diatribes can only contribute to better health and greater psychological stability.

Calmness of discourse, quietude of mind; there is no longer a place of repose or respite from the vicissitudes of this complex societal aggregate defined by the fast pace of technological whims.  We all have to find our corner of rectitude from this constant clanging of harshness; how we go about discovering that unique slice of life, attuned to our needs and satisfying our desires, is the question of a lifetime.  For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal Service worker who needs to consider first the state of his or her medical condition, and connect the deterioration and progressive decline to the daily diatribe of the workplace, there is no rational basis for delay or procrastination.

In life, priority is established by sequencing one’s life:  Health, family, career, etc.  Somewhere, the daily diatribe fits like the proverbial square peg in a round hole (or, as the contrarian Hitchens might have said, Is it a round peg in a square hole?); but whether the greater macro-society engages in the daily diatribe of life, it is the “little people” of minor consequence who must pay the price, and for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it might be a good time to look for that shining light on a hill, and move on to the next phase of living this life of escapism and constant seeking.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The last hurrah

We dream of those moments; the final word in a debate which devastates the opponent; the retort which wows the audience; the closing statement that persuades beyond a reasonable doubt; the performance of a lifetime which defines the value of life itself.  The final breath taken, the last hurrah heard, and the concluding catapult left not as a dangling participle, but as a substantive grammatical perfection, leaves the participants and viewers in silent awe in the wake of the closing curtains descending as the roar of the crowd becomes muffled because of the thunderstruck performance left with little doubt or residue for an encore.

Sometimes, however, it is better to let the silence interrupt, the pause intersect, and the non-retort prevail.

Discretion is a characteristic personality trait which rarely prevails, and less so in moments of reactive anger and tumultuous needs of flaring emotions.  For, the time elapsing between a declaration made and the thoughtless contortions of an emotional response, will often be of a split millisecond, and certainly not enough consideration for the synapses to fire within the fermented (or is it demented?) mind of the turmoil encased within.

The samurai who touches the hilt of his sword must consider the consequences; for, once unsheathed, the metal blade previously encased within the master artisan’s work must be used, lest cowardice be charged and reputation be tarnished.  In life, work, and daily living, we have multiple instances and encounters where the opportunity to speak, or not, are confronted and engaged; rarely do we reflect upon the least-favored alternative: silence.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering 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, the repetitive refrain is often to let everyone know, and to express one’s opinion loudly and without thoughtful editing, like the book publisher who self-publishes because no one else has seen the value of the Greatest American Novel left as an unknown and unsought manuscript, hidden in the dusty caverns of a mind secluded but for diatribes on the Internet.

The sagely advice of this lawyer: Unless there is a compelling reason to tell — don’t.  For, in the end, declared asides of fictional characters and the hubris of a Shakespearean soliloquy often result in death, destruction and dementia (and not necessarily in that order), and the last hurrah is often like the drowning sailor whose final surviving words echo soundlessly in the lapping waves of a vast ocean of Nature’s impervious imperialism, lost forever in the terminal breath of a gasping desperation.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire