OPM Disability under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset: Beyond the Disequilibrium of Life

Finding a balanced life after a disabling injury or medical condition with OPM Disability Retirement benefits

One can describe, in positive terms, the negative aspects of a thing, as in, “X is y,” etc. Or, as in the case often represented by Maimonides’ Negative Theology, one can elucidate by negation of perceived phenomena, leaving the subtraction of present realities to the imagination of the void.

Some may contend that the latter methodology of descriptive narrative adds nothing to knowledge; for, it is a negation of that which we know, and as King Lear reminded Cordelia, “Nothing will come of nothing:  speak again.”  But there is something beyond the nothingness of negation, is there not?  To negate is to expose the loss of something, the extracting and revealing of that which once was, became detached, and left as a void to be filled.

Thus can life present a semblance of equilibrium, where balance of family, work, community and value of living provides a coherence of a teleology of sorts; and when such coordination of essence in the core of one’s being gets out of whack (the term being of a very technical nature, used in esoteric philosophical discourse, as in, “He whacked away at the pages of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit”), there is a foreboding sense of loss and dispiritedness (again, the negation of a positive attribute).

Medical conditions tend to exonerate the negative theology of life.  Often, it is a subtraction beyond the chronic pain and debilitating nature of the medical condition itself.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the issue is often how, and to what extent, a persuasive description of one’s medical condition can purport to effectively represent the chronic and severe nature of one’s medical condition.

Some would contend that such an endeavor is nigh impossible to do; for, as the negation of equilibrium is the disequilibrium of life, so the mere subtraction of what we do and could do, does not necessarily present an accurate picture of one’s life.  And that is what is required, is it not?  Words have meaning; descriptive negations presume a context of knowledge already existent.

For the Federal and Postal employee who must present a compelling Federal Disability Retirement application to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the conundrum of attempting to adequately describe one’s medical condition, its impact upon one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, and the further pervasive effect upon one’s personal life, is a conundrum of epic proportions.

To engage in negative theology in the descriptive delineation on SF 3112A is to presume a context which is not yet there; and to describe the disequilibrium brought upon the Federal or Postal employee resulting from a medical condition, is to encounter the wall that separates between words, meanings, and the true experiences of life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Light & Darkness

Darkness is the absence of light; and whether “black” is a color, or the complete expungement or its very opposite, the aggregation and mixture of all colors into a single cauldron of rainbows, is a concept often debated, based upon philosophical paradigms of objective criteria.  But darkness is not the same as color, or the lack thereof; rather, it points to the subjective capacity to perceive; and thus do we attribute the word, the concept, and the ideation not only to sight, but to moods and feelings.  And of its antithesis, do we embrace a similitude:  of lightness of being, having light-headedness, and of metaphors involving shining bright lights upon dark corners of moods and metabolic disturbances.

Medical conditions and situations which entrap moods and mental mindsets, are often enveloped in what can only be described as “darkness”.  One may discount and serve with ironic suspicion the use of anthropomorphic metaphors and analogies to describe circumstances and moods of pervasive negations, but the fact is that the mode of communication we primarily use — of linguistic tools through words and stringing together of words — can sometimes only inadequately express the profound and overwhelming sense of one’s being.  “Darkness” and escape from such a situation through the shining of light, is a concept which individuals understand when medical conditions, whether chronic pain and physical debilitation or psychiatric measures of depression, anxiety, panic attacks, etc., impact one’s life in untold ways.

Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from medical conditions, where the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, know well the mood of darkness — of the insecurity because of one’s employment, and sense of foreboding because the end of one’s career is within sight of a shortened plateau of accomplishments.  And what will the future hold?  What will my family, friends, and peers think of me?  I am not doing this to “game” the system, but because it is necessary to preserve what is left of me; but will others understand?

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a traumatic event in and of itself; it is, as the proverbial concept implies, a darkness in a period of one’s life; and until an approval is received from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management determining the validity and acceptance of a Federal Disability Retirement application, such darkness will only squeeze out any potentiality of a lightness of being.

For, “light” is not merely the opposite of “darkness”, nor darkness the pure expungement of light; rather, the one follows upon the other when a recognition of awareness is achieved, that the flowing stream from a hidden spring of hope can only be tasted when the trickling water finds its way down rocky paths to the tributary of life’s meaning which is unraveled for significance and unconcealed mysteries of human suffering.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire