OPM Disability Retirement: Mechanization, Automation & the Lull of Conformity

Locke and Rousseau both recognized the necessity of the individual human being to enter into civil society in order to escape the theoretical “state of nature” for self-preservation, and once within, conformity to societal norms and orderly constructs became a natural force in the progressive evolution of civilization. But social order need not mandate conformity of a thoughtless drone or loss of creativity.

The term itself — “drone” — is an interesting one. For, in its general usage, it meant a sense of drudgery or monotony; or, in a specific sense, a male, stingless honeybee which produced no honey, and thus a less-than-full entity; and in more recent usage, a non-human, destructive craft, devoid of thought or moral compass.

Social conformity which gave rise to automation and industrial mechanization, has produced a populace given to thoughtless action.  Such conformity, perhaps, is useful; for in a world requiring bureaucratic patience, one is left with no other choice but to wait upon a long and onerous administrative process.

For the Federal or Postal employee who must submit to the long, bureaucratic process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, the conformity to standard forms, the patience required for the long wait, and the necessity to comply to the rules governing eligibility, legal standards, etc., is part and parcel of the social structure.  We are trained to comply; and with no other choice but to go to the singular Federal Agency, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is best to try and prevail in the most effective and efficient manner possible, inasmuch as there really is no other choice in the matter.

Locke and Rousseau were right; self-preservation requires the escape from the state of nature; what we are left with, is the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — the penultimate reflection of a civilized and advanced society.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Problem of Conformity as a Thoughtless Process

The bureaucratization of society becomes a problem when conformity to a standardized process results in thoughtless action.  We have all seen scenes from movies, or read stories or books, of the proverbial drone-like monologue, shown in cinematographic hues in monotony, of emotionless workers who robotically stamp papers and call out, “Next!”.

To some extent, preparing and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, requires such conformity.  The standard forms themselves (SF 2801 series for CSRS employees; SF 3107 series for FERS employees; and for both CSRS and FERS employees, SF 3112 series) require a foundation of such conformity.  And while continuation sheets and attachments are not prohibited (yes, the double-negative in grammar means that it is a positive, and you may do what is proposed), it is nevertheless constraining when one is putting together a Federal Disability Retirement application.

On the other hand, standardization provides for uniformity and ease of information.  If everyone just submitted his or her own version of selective information and sent it in to OPM, there would be greater chaos than there already is at the singular agency which processes all Federal Disability Retirement applications.

Thus, conformity to standardized procedures can be a good thing.  The problem, however, is when such conformity leads to thoughtlessness — and, in a Federal Disability Retirement process, one should expect to encounter such bureaucratic mindlessness.  This, too, must be dealt with; and sometimes the need to use legal authorities as a sword, and not merely as a shield, is the only way of effectuating a required response.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire