OPM Disability Retirement: Concealment through Repetition

It is often through mindless repetition that concealment of truth can be accomplished, and with insidious efficiency.  For, repetition of tasks; redundancy of toil; convenience of engagement in life’s duties and obligations without thoughtful input; these can all be performed in monotonous automation without the participation of the one true essence of human uniqueness and identity:  the creativity of thought.

Life sometimes deadens the soul; or, more accurately, it is we who, as the gatekeeper of sensory impressions which bombard us daily, allow for the toxicity of life to invade and destroy.  Of all moral failings, however, one of the greatest is to allow for the mundane to conceal the truth.  That is often what the human toil of work allows; for, when a medical condition, whether physical or psychiatric, creeps in subtle hiding but progressively deteriorates and eats away at the body or soul, the desperate need to hide behind the mindless repetition of work allows for a semblance of mundane continuation of daily routine, and to trick the mind into thinking that all is well.

It is tantamount to the Maginot Line which the French had erected, consisting of fortifications, armaments and weapons’ placement in anticipation of an outdated strategy of waging war:  it provided a semblance of security, and allowed people to mindlessly live life.

For the Federal and Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, the refuge behind work; the responses to agency actions of retaliation; the prolonging and procrastinating of the one true essence of necessity — of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits in order to attend to one’s health — allows for the repetition of monotony to conceal the singularity of focus which is required to move forward.

Filing for Federal or Postal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, is not the “be all or end all” of solutions; but it unravels a truism which prevents inertia of creativity, by allowing one to secure an annuity for the future, and to go back to the foundation of human essence: health, creativity, and the discarding of the repetition of the mundane.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

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

 

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Sand Castles

Walking the beach in the winter months, one can imagine the activity of the previous summer; of the gaiety of childhood mirth; laughing squeals of delightfully unrehearsed cacophony mixed with the rolling sounds of surf and sun swept music of hollow reeds bending in the dunes of nature’s creation; and of sand castles constructed for a day, only to disappear in the silence of night as the tide comes, toppling the singular turret and washing over the parapet walk, never to be inhabited again but for a future summer to come.

It is those very sand castles which we build, and to which we cling, then refuse to allow nature to sweep away, thinking somehow that through sheer human will and dominance of stubbornness, we can betray and defy the fragile nature of our being.  Clinging to bygone feelings of security and warmth is a characteristic of human folly.  We do it to our own detriment.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing the essential elements of one’s job, there comes a point of “letting go”.  Often, the time to do so has passed by; but so long as one is within the legal, statutory timeframe, it is never too late as a practical matter to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Whether under FERS or CSRS, a Federal Disability Retirement application is ultimately filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

For many Federal and Postal Workers, the recognition of making “that dreaded change” is a difficult decision to make; and like sand castles built for eternity in a child’s mind, the reality is that very few things in life last longer than the pull and tug of the tides of change which inevitably wash away the dreams we once held.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGil, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Paradoxical Soiling of Sacrament

Can a person enter a religious institution (i.e., a church, a synagogue, etc.) without an intent to worship, but merely as an onlooker, and yet assume the role of a congregant without soiling the sacrament of its grounds? Tourists do that all the time, and perhaps mere “visitors” who desire to “try out” a church or other institution.

Is there a paradox in taking pictures of old Roman grounds of sacred pasts? Do we somehow justify actions by assuming one role (e.g., as a tourist and not a member) without the intent of what is originally meant of the place we visit? Can a person lie to one’s self, or unintentionally deceive others merely be entering a place of worship, or does one declare the status properly by having a digital camera in tow?

Similarly, if a Federal or Postal Worker goes to work without declaring one’s medical condition, and is able to for many years mask and conceal the inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, is there anything wrong with such deception — except perhaps that one is doing grave harm by progressively and purposefully deteriorating one’s own body?

Federal and Postal Worker have a tendency to do that, and in today’s harsh and competitive work environment, holding onto one’s job at all costs appears to be the rule of thumb, until it becomes apparent to everyone around, and lastly to one’s self, that one cannot continue in the same vein, any longer.

In that event, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, becomes the only viable option left; assuming, of course, that one has a body, mind or soul left to enjoy in retirement. But that is always the paradox of soiling any sacrament — especially the sacrament of one’s own body.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: The Price of Good Intentions to Deceive

Can one possess good intentions to deceive?  Such a paradoxical claim would normally constitute what is commonly referred to as an oxymoron, as the concept of “good” would countermand the opposing construct of deception.  Thus, it is not the intention itself which makes for the conundrum, but rather the originating focus of the will to act.

For the Federal and Postal employee who masks one’s medical conditions, whether of a physical nature, a psychiatric condition, or concerning the medications which are prescribed and taken at the direction of one’s medical provider in order to alleviate the symptoms of the condition and perhaps as a palliative measure, the price which one pays for not immediately informing one’s agency may range from nothing, to unforeseen consequences far into the future.

Is it technically “deception” to engage in a negative — i.e., to not immediately inform?  Is there an affirmative duty to convey or otherwise divulge such private information, if the medical condition has not yet become so apparent as to openly manifest an impact upon one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job?

Conversely, does the supervisor and the agency perform a service of “good” if performance ratings continue to reflect superior or outstanding, when more recent work has clearly diminished in volume and/or quality, but because of past performance and an ongoing sense of loyalty, the supervisor wants to just “sign off” by regurgitating past evaluations and assigning a current date?

Ultimately, in a Federal Disability Retirement case, one must at some point divulge the medical condition, if not merely at the time of filing one’s Federal Disability Retirement application through the agency’s Human Resources Department.  The timing of such divulgence, however, can sometimes impact the reactionary impulses of an agency.  In the end, the Agency must complete SF 3112D in response to the applicant’s filing; and whether the agency was previously informed or not, an effort to see whether an appropriate accommodation can be made will become an integral part of the process.

From the perspective of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the issue of timing — of the good or neutral intentions of the applicant — rarely comes into play.

As for any “deception” involved, the only one who would be harmed by any such intention would be the one who bravely attempts to continue working through the pain of the condition itself, and the harm which continues to progressively deteriorate the Federal or Postal employee who attempts to perform all of the essential elements of one’s position.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: The Cost of a Veil

Veils are meant to conceal, either in part or in full; and the color of such concealment is of significance to indicate the state of sacrament or ceremony.  Apart from religious significance and communicated traditions, however, most veils themselves are neither visible nor apparent, but rather silently form a conspiracy of covering up and setting aside, like backyard refuse and debris in the corner shed or behind the closed door of a garage.

Physical pain can be veiled; aside from an involuntary twitch or wince which might provoke the onlooker to make a query, or a sudden gait dysfunction which, no matter how hard one tries to correct, forces the stiffening of one’s limbs or spinal column.

Psychiatric conditions may be more difficult to conceal; from explosive emotional turmoils rendered by Bipolar Disorder, to the uncontrollable lethargy impacted by Major Depression; to the paralyzing effects of a panic attack or Generalized Anxiety Disorder; the human psyche is often the first to reveal itself as the gateway to a malignancy.

But beyond the human capacity to conceal and place a veil upon one’s life, what is the cost of such concealment?  It is the further downward spiral; and, perhaps one’s employing agency never notices the invisible veil, and grants superior performance reviews; but through it all, at the severe and irreparable cost to one’s health.

For the Federal and Postal employee who lives and works with the constant veil of fear in being exposed with a medical condition which prevents one from performing all of the essential elements of one’s job, Federal Disability Retirement through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is an option which should be seriously considered.  Whether you are under FERS or CSRS, the base annuity will allow the Federal and Postal employee to lift the veil and proceed forward with one’s future, perhaps into a second, alternative vocation.

And as a final note:  there is in most cultures a great significance in the human act of lifting one’s veil — to reveal that which is beneath, and to come out from behind the concealment.  It is often a sacramental act, and one which allows for revelatory exposure, out from under the darkness and into the full light.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire