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

 

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

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: A Reminder of Sorts

Pain is a reminder of sorts; but then, so are alarm clocks, speed bumps and the presence of law enforcement personnel.  All around us, through signs, advertisements, smart phone apps, and sticky notes which we write to ourselves, we are surrounded by reminders.

The plethora and abundance of such reminders have never been the issue; rather, it is the responsiveness, or lack thereof, which determines the future course and orientation of one’s life. And so it is with the signals which are transmitted through out biological system; of that nagging hip pain which won’t simply go away; of increasing panic and anxiety attacks which paralyze one with physical manifestations of chest pains, difficulty breathing, etc.

Doctors can treat the symptoms; sometimes, medicating the symptoms lessens the strength of signals; the weakened reminders try desperately to find an alternate route to raise the alerts in more poignant and insistent form; but we humans are adept at ignoring such signage and alarms.

For Federal and Postal employees who have come to a point where the reminders can no longer be ignored, Federal Disability Retirement is an option to pursue.  It is available for all Federal and Postal employees under FERS or CSRS, and where it can be established that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, there is the likelihood of a successful outcome.

Reminders?  The Federal and Postal Worker has already long been aware of them, through the personal experience of one’s medical condition.  It was never a question of whether there were reminders; it was always the “when” — when would we finally acknowledge and respond?  It is, and always was, just a matter of time.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The Inauthentic Life

The converse of a life of inauthenticity, of course, is one in which there exists not a chasm between one’s appearance and the substantive content of one’s character; duplicity and a secret life are contradictions; integrity is the consonance between one’s stated being and the reality of the inner self.

The modern age promotes a life of inauthenticity.   For, with all of the social media outlets — of Facebook, the Internet, Twitter, email, web pages, etc., one can create an image of one’s self which is far different than the reality of the person whom we meet.   But more than that, who determines the truth of the content of one’s public image?   Such an impression is no longer based upon the actual encounter with the person; rather, the person who creates the image is the same person who determines the validity of such presentation.  There is thus no public vetting or verification of the image presented to the public.

Throughout civilized annotation of time, there has always been the problem of substance and appearance; indeed, the history of Western Philosophy is replete with repeated attempts at resolving the “problem” of appearance versus reality — thus, the need in modern times to unveil the reality of Being.

On a microcosmic scale, this is the problem presented to the Federal and Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job.

The “hiding” of one’s medical condition becomes a daily necessity in the world of employability, because there is always the fear that recognition, unveiling and discovery that the Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to perform the full positional elements of the job will result in dismissal.   So the Federal and Postal employee engages in daily duplicity — all the while killing him or herself and acting “as if” nothing were wrong.

There is, of course, a difference between such an act of hiding one’s true condition, from the person who utilizes social media to present a self other than one’s “true” self — the former is borne of economic survival and necessity; the latter is a result of an unfettered ego.

In the end, the attempt to keep undiscovered a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, will result in a crisis point where appearance can no longer mask reality.  When that crisis point comes to fruition, then the Federal or Postal Worker, whether under FERS or CSRS, should consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.   Such a step will ultimately allow for the Federal or Postal employee who has been living an inauthentic life, to move forward without the need of duplicitous means.

For the rest of the world, however, the life of inauthenticity will continue to thrive, so long as the loss of public means (or desire) to distinguish between appearance and reality is left to the sole discretion of the person creating one’s own public image.

It appears that the Western Philosophical problem haunting from the time of Plato and Aristotle has finally been resolved:  there is no difference between appearance and reality; appearance is reality, and reality contains no substance other than the appearance of one’s own creation.   The Emperor not only has his clothes on; even if a child points it out otherwise, the fact that he says it, makes it so.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Apparent Normalcy

One can venture and maneuver through this world with a semblance of normalcy, where from all outside perspectives, a person is untroubled and unencumbered.

There are multiple complexities inherent in such a perspective, of course: what constitutes “normal”; to what extent do individuals have a responsibility in assessing and evaluating a person’s private world; as well as the problem of infringing upon the privacy of others, and the desire of the other to allow for any intrusion, whether consciously or subconsciously.

For, each person constructs multiple layers of privacy zones — from the proverbial picket fence, to one’s own private bedroom; to the gates of a home; but always, the foundation begins within the walls of the skull of one’s brain.  For, the gatekeeper is always maintained by the individual, as to what is allowed in, and what is manifested for others to observe.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who is beset with a medical condition, such that he or she must contemplate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is often the preparation of the actual forms which is the first manifested evidence of an impacting medical condition.

All throughout the previous many years, the apparent normalcy has been closely protected; great performance ratings, minimal leave taken, and daily smiles and platitudinous greetings; until the Federal or Postal worker arrives at a crisis point.

This is the apparent face and semblance of normalcy — the surprise of others, of the regretful and remorseful comment, “I just never would have realized.”  Or, perhaps it is the indicia of the busy world in which we all live, which allows us to lack any compassion to notice.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire