OPM Disability Retirement: Accommodations and the Elegance of the Hedgehog

A French film (The Hedgehog) loosely following upon the novel (The Elegance of the Hedgehog), focuses upon the hidden life of an unnoticed individual, and through her providing a platform of unraveling the fears, aspirations, class differences and how we treat (or mistreat, as the case may be) each other based upon appearances and social constraints.  It is always the character of the child who uncovers the secret, as in the story of the emperor without clothes, and in this story, as youth has not yet been scarred by the juggernaut of societal preconceptions.

It is in the secret (and secretive) life of a janitor (for the French, the more refined title of a “concierge”), who hides her intelligence and love of literature for fear of appearing pretentious and thus facing the potential and threat of loss of her job attending to wealthy tenants — where the authenticity of a life’s worth reveals itself.  How the greater society reacts to an aberration of an entrenched social order disrupts the conventional manner in which people get along in a community.

The story presents lessons far-reaching beyond the obvious; and reaches into depths untraveled, including for Federal and Postal Workers who suffer from a medical condition and must contend with supervisors and agencies which view with suspicion workers who are “different” and do not follow the traditional routine of work and productivity. For it is precisely the Federal and Postal Worker, whether under FERS or CSRS, who must often walk with hesitancy and fear when they are suffering from a medical condition, such that the medical condition has begun to impact one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job.

Like the main character in The Hedgehog, revelation of the “secret” of one’s true being — of the medical condition, whether physical or psychiatric — would mean the potential adverse reaction of the agency.  Instead of providing for an accommodation of such a revealed “secret”, Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service will instead counter the situation with predictable aplomb, and begin the systematic harassment and intimidation to further complicate matters.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, is quite often the best option for the Federal or Postal employee suffering from a medical condition.  Like the character in the Hedgehog, the fear of retaliation for revelation of a “secret” which others believe to be disruptive to the social order, forces one to conceal that which proves to be the essence of humanity — that vulnerability is the true test of who we are.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Loss of Empathy

Does it establish the existence of empathy if a person asks after someone’s health or wellbeing?  If, in the next moment, the querying individual does something which would constitute “backstabbing“, does it negate the previous sincerity of the asking?  Is there a numbing effect upon a generation of individuals who have engaged in daily role-playing through video games which defy a conceptual designation of “virtual reality“, and for the most part serves to be the “real” reality for most?

Is empathy a lost virtue; is virtue even a meaningful concept in this day and age; and if lost and not, does it make a difference at all?  Or has human nature been consistently mean and low throughout the ages, and any romantic semblance of a Shakespearean view (paraphrasing, here) that man is the paragon of animals and somewhat akin to the angels, is merely a profoundly meaningless statement of reminiscences long past?  And what impact does such foreboding hold for individuals with medical conditions, especially in the context of employment?

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, whether under FERS or CSRS, there is fortunately the default option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Fortunately, such an option does not depend upon the empathetic character of fellow human beings, leaving aside other Federal or Postal employees.  Instead, Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefits are completely dependent upon “the law”.  This is as it should be, as opposed to the fickle character of individuals who sway to and from as the unstable emotions of individuals may change from day to day.  It is ultimately the law which one must cite, rely upon, and use both as a shield and a sword.

As for the lost generation of empathy: Let the laws governing Federal Disability Retirement determine the outcome of that forecast, as laws last somewhat longer than the fickle character of human beings.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: The Maverick

It is sometimes referred to as an unbranded animal, often a calf or yearling; the fact that it is unbranded, implies that it doesn’t belong to a particular stock; ownership is not established; and secondary meanings include an inference of being unorthodox or different.  One assumes that the maverick acts differently by choice; but without knowing the history of one’s life, such an assumption may be betrayed by an opposite set of facts:  that the “others” shunned and excluded, resulting in the unavoidable choice of being the loner.

Medical conditions seem to do that to groups.  Human empathy is supposed to, by myth and self-serving accolades, bring people together for support and community; but the opposite is more often true than not; that a change in the stock spreads rumors of a plague, making nervous the healthy components.  Or perhaps it is merely that strangeness cannot be dealt with, and the reactive response in general is to shun, isolate, and act as if the difference did not exist.

For Federal and 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 job, the sense that one has become a maverick among others is nothing new.  Whether because of the medical condition, or because of the reaction by one’s agency or Postal Service, being unorthodox or tagged as no longer part of the identifiable herd, is part of everyday life.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is merely the natural next step in being tagged as a maverick; for, having already been deemed different, it is time to step outside of the orthodoxy of one’s agency or the U.S. Postal Service, and set out for one’s future by creating a path hitherto untraveled.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Social Isolation

Federal and Postal employees who contemplate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, often feel a profound sense of isolation.

First, of course, the agency itself has a tendency to treat the medically disabled Federal or Postal employee as a pariah; that, somehow, suffering from a medical condition is within the control of the sufferer.

Then, if the agency is informed of the very intent to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, then certain consequential actions often follow:  a PIP may be imposed; leave restrictions may be enforced; an adverse action may be proposed, including a removal — often based not upon the medical condition, but all sorts of “other reasons” that have been tabulated, memorialized and recorded, by supervisors and fellow co-workers.  Yes, there is FMLA; yes, the Federal or Postal employee may file an EEO action or other potential lawsuit; but such counteractions fail to mitigate the sense of isolation and separation that the Federal or Postal employee feels, from an agency which he or she has expended one’s life and energies to advance for the cause of one’s career.

Third, when the Federal or Postal employee finally files with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, OPM’s non-responsive attitude further exacerbates the sense of isolation.  A sense of closure is what one desires; of being able to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits, then to move on with life into the next phase of a vocation, the next step beyond.

One should always remember:  It is the very act of filing which is the first step in overcoming the profound sense of isolation; for, the act itself and the decision to move beyond, is the affirmative indicator that there is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire