FERS Medical Retirement from the OPM: The gods of modernity

Each era has its false gods — of Greek ones that explained the mysteries underlying the universe; of religions that conquered by the sword; of Philosophers and Kings who ruled with an iron fist; of Freud, Psychoanalysis and other ghosts in the machine; and in modernity, of youth and the cult of the young, and perhaps of the authors of self-help books who have cornered the market on wisdom replaced.

The gods of modernity are different from those of a generation ago; the “I” and the “me” that pervades on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; of the perfect “me” who takes selfies at every opportunity to reinforce and remind of the hollowness of the gods we make of ourselves; and in the end, the loneliness that one is left with when the screen is shut down and one is left with the reality of facing one’s self in the loneliness of a perception that cannot be faced in the mirror of one’s own reflection.

And of the other gods of reality: Perfection in perception.  But what happens if perception must encounter reality?  That is often the problem with a medical condition — for, medical conditions remind us of the ugliness of the world around: of mortality, vulnerability, and the loss of societal empathy for all things imperfect.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition no longer allows one to be “perfect” in the workplace, and where the essential elements of one’s job can no longer be met, it is time to consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application so that the focus of one’s life can be redirected in order to regain one’s health.

The gods of modernity — of a career, of never-ending competence and productivity in one’s Federal or Postal job — must be replaced with a revaluation of what is truly important in life: Health, sanity, and some semblance of caring.  And while securing a FERS Disability Retirement annuity may not be the answer to all of life’s ills, it will at least secure a future in order to focus upon getting better, and perhaps reorienting one’s focus upon a future that may be different and better.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement: The words we never use

Are they like scraps of papers left in one’s back pocket, or in the vast chasms of oversized purses that seemingly have no bottom and certainly reveal no corners?  Do we keep them in our wallets, reserve them for special occasions, or otherwise allow them to float in the ethereal universe of unclaimed inventions?  Is there a Lost-and-Found Section within an agency entitled, “U.S. Department of Words” (or, should there be) that deals exclusively with ones that are never used?  And in a pragmatic society where utility is the key for relevance, applicability, value and worth, is there any sense to pointing out that which is never used, never recalled, rarely regurgitated and almost certainly never thought of even in the privacy of soliloquies left unstated?

The words we never use can be categorized into: A. Ones we’ve never learned about nor looked up, B. Ones we once knew when once we were serious-minded students who diligently looked up every word we knew not the definition of because we wanted to better ourselves, sound more intelligent and appear with greater utterances of sophistication at cocktail parties we were never invited to — therefore, we once looked them up, memorized them, tried to use them in sentences, and then promptly forgot them, or C. Ones we never came across, have now no interest in using them because we have become old and lazy.

There is a fourth possibility — that we “know” them but “fear” that the mere utterance of them will make a nightmare of a reality we want to avoid.  “Divorce” is one such word for kids who watch their parents fight, and wonder about their own security in the universe of unstable families; “Chronic” or “intractable” are two others — for those with medical conditions who do not want to hear their doctors talk about the consequences of certain disabilities which have developed over the past couple of years.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where such medical conditions have now come to the point of being chronic and intractable, and thus prevents the Federal or Postal employee from continuing in his or her career with the Federal government, it is time to consider another set of words which were previously never used: Federal Disability Retirement.

Avoiding the use of words will not undo the reality surrounding the conceptual paradigms encountered; and procrastinating the thought, initiation or formulation of an effective FERS Disability Retirement application will not make such words go away; they will remain, even if they are words which we never wanted to use.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement: Damaged goods

Perhaps it is of a fine porcelain statue; or a painting that depicts perfection in a pastoral panorama presenting a private purview of picturesque purity (sorry for the alliteration that cannot be resisted); or a first edition book that is without blemish; or a host of other “goods” that one values, admires, cherishes — and is purchased with anticipation of contentment.

Upon returning home, one notices an imperfection not previously spotted: a small “crack” on the forearm of the porcelain figure; a tear in the upper right portion of the canvas, just below the line where the frame casts a shadow and becomes almost imperceptible; or a crayon marking on page 324, in the middle of the book, unnoticed unless one inspects each and every page.

The item cannot be returned, because of either distance (perhaps it was purchased on international travel in a small shop in a foreign country not known for return policies); policy (the sign clearly stated, “All sales are final and the purchaser bears all responsibility in inspecting the condition of the item prior to buying”) or some other impracticable reason.

The imperfection is so minor that no one else knows, would notice or otherwise cares to comment on such an impurity of the state of the condition, except for one small and irritating fact: You know.  It bothers you.  The fact of the damaged goods betrays something about yourself — not merely that a contrast against a paradigm of perfection has stirred an irrationality that struggles against good judgment, but moreover, that there exists an intolerance for a standard of less than the penultimate apex of an unreachable standard.

What does one do?  You can: Hide and stash away the item (but it yet remains with the knowledge that, hidden or not, the aura of imperfection exists); you can give it as a gift, or sell it to a third party (but what if the potential purchaser recognizes the imperfection and bargains for a better price, leaving you with a loss — will that constantly remind you of your lack of judgment when once you thought that your expertise in such matters was the paradigm of perfection itself?); justify to yourself over and over that, “Yes, it isn’t perfect, but boy is it a great piece regardless!” (perhaps, over time, this approach may work); or, do the most drastic of solutions: destroy the item and trash it.

Medical conditions have a way of impacting individuals in a similar manner as the discovery of imperfection in what one once thought was a paradigm of perfection: somehow, it is even worse, because of the personal manner that medical conditions impact: it touches upon one’s self, one’s self-image and the crumbling sense of self-confidence one possessed when health was taken for granted.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, always try and keep in mind that the diminution of the “product” concerned (i.e., yourself, the Federal or Postal employee) is not discovered by the mere fact of filing for Federal Disability Retirement — rather, the fault is in the system of the Federal Government for not being able to be patient as you struggle to recover from you illness or injury.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset is not a reflection on the “value” of you; it is, instead, the reality of a system that fails to recognize the difference between the relative value of “goods” as opposed to the priceless perfection of a human being and his or her contribution to society.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The difficult good-bye

It is always difficult to say good-bye.  Whether of a long duration, or with a quick ending to an already fast-deteriorating relationship, the good-bye that brings sorrow, tears and a sense of unease is the one that once was never thought of.

Separating from loved ones; the end of a stay that may have begun with trepidation, hesitation or even loathing, but which turned out to be an embracing of past memories forgotten, revitalizing conversations and enlivening moments of collective reflections; or even of a chance encounter with someone, or with the lengthy last moments with a bedridden relative who wants the warmth of human contact nearby before departing into the netherworld through gates of wandering souls.

Whatever the circumstances, the good-byes we fear, the ones we think will be a relief, and even those that turned out to end merely with a half-hearted wave of the hand — it is the difficult good-bye that echoes within the hollow of one’s mind, squeezing between schedules full and memories touching upon a conscience that will not abide.

Careers have good-byes, as well, and not just between people; for it is the career that defines so much of who we are.  It is never just the “what do you do for a living” part of it, but the title that comes with it, the identity that is attached to it, the camaraderie that accompanies it and the past memories that haunt one; these are the cementing tributaries that form one’s personhood.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the difficult good-bye is the one that separates the Federal or Postal employee from the Federal Agency or the Postal Facility — not necessarily because of the circumstances compelled by the medical conditions themselves (although that is admittedly difficult enough), but often because the job itself was and has been an integral part of one’s life, livelihood and identity, and because any change in one’s routine is hard enough.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is essentially saying good-bye to a good chunk of one’s daily routine of life and living — of spending about 50% or more of one’s life (including preparing for the day, commuting, doing work-related emails and similar activities, etc.) — and thus will be, even under the best of circumstances, a difficult separation and departing.

But always remember that the difficult good-bye is the one that retains an abiding meaningfulness within the souls of worthwhile characters, which then forms the seeds of hope for a future yet untold, as opposed to the half-hearted wave of the hand that dismisses so casually that we remember not even which hand with which we waved good-bye.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Filing for OPM Disability Retirement: Counting the days

Do we count the days when vacations lapse within the final hours and minutes, when in the beginning sunsets were timeless moments of restful hours yet to come?  What anticipation of worry-less days, and of looking forward to sleeping in, letting one’s guard down and the muscles relaxing from the tensions of anxiety-filled build-ups: No emails (at least for a few days, maybe…until the thought begins to intrude, then grow, then overwhelm, of the accumulation of those hundreds sitting there waiting…waiting…), no phone calls, no need for the greatest necessity in modernity — the ability and capacity to multitask.

The days began with lazy hours and hazy minds; of the sleepiness still caught between eyelids barely opened, and thoughts of the rat-race still barely behind.  It takes days just to unwind, and just when you begin to relax, it dawns on you that you are already counting the days when summer is over, the kids are back to school, and even the commercials on television are already pushing to get those supplies that are blaring with fanfare of sales and super-sales.

Do lions in the wild count the days?  Do the salmon as they fight to go upstream relinquish the solitude of mindless numbers?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition forces one to count not just the days when vacation is at hand, but every hour, every day, every week because survival to the end of the week is the mode of existence, it is time to consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

For, in the end, counting the days is nothing but a clear indication that the numbered days are shrinking exponentially, and lost with the sequence of each count is the unalterable truth that days counted are days lost, especially when one’s health is at stake.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Monday’s Startle

There is not much that needs to be said about Mondays.  The standard response to, “So, how is your day going?” is quickly understood with the response of, “It’s Monday”.  What is it about the first work-day of the week that brings about the startle of life?  Is that why the traditional week’s cycle begins from Sunday-to-Saturday, because we want to avoid the memory of a week beginning so disastrously?

Do we dread work so much that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, where the expectation of the day following the day off becomes so anticipated with angst and considerations of impending disasters, that what we come to expect we impose our will upon the universe such that reality follows our fears and imagination?  Or, is it that there is an across-the-board truce that comes about without a word of acknowledgment — shortly after the close of business on Friday afternoon — when everyone heaves a sigh of relief, goes into the weekend, and everyone follows the protocol of no longer bothering one another?

How did we come to that unspoken rule — you know, the one where emails suddenly become reduced in volume (except by those with OCD who increase the length and number because of the unresponsiveness of the previously-sent dozen or so), phone calls are put on hold and the furious activity of keyboard punching and looking about anxiously at the clock-that-never-moves — where suddenly a peaceful calm descends like a spirit from on high above the clouds, the white flag of a temporary truce is reached without anyone saying a word, week after week, month after month, year in and year out?

It is reported that such unspoken occurrences were common during every war — our own Civil War, the two World Wars (but not in the more recent ones in Southeast Asia and the Middle East), where ceasefires were embraced around Holy Holidays and some Sundays without any need for negotiated settlements, but with merely a wave and a smile.

Then, Monday’s startle comes with a roar.  Whether because it remains such a contrast against the quietude of the day before, or merely the release of pent-up energy allowed to aggregate over the 2 days of respite and restoration, one may never quite comprehend.

For the Federal employee or Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition which necessitates preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, Monday’s startle is often a chronic condition because of the inability to escape from the anxiety of the medical condition itself over the weekend, Holidays or summer months.

Monday’s startle can be survived, for the most part, precisely because of Saturday’s respite and Sunday’s quietude; but when every day of the week and weekend results in the same angst as Monday’s startle, it is likely time to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement in order to focus upon one’s health, lest Monday’s startle turns into an endless stream of red flags replacing the white ones of truce where such flags are warning signs of an impending condition that only gets worse.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Representation: The habit that prevents

Kant was known to have followed a daily habitual routine that was marked with such precision that townspeople would set their watches and clocks by his various points of presence — i.e., if he was by the butcher’s shop, it was 3:15:17; if at the corner of Kroenigsburg Street, 3:16:09; and when he turned the corner of 7th and Main, it was 3:20:12.

One wonders if, had he paused at a random street corner to sneeze, would time have stopped, the universe become paralyzed, and the gods of the underworld been defeated in paroxysms of trembling fright?  Or, had he broken the daily routine of predictable sequences of the uninterrupted sojourn, marked by the two-steps-tap-tap with the cane of his choice, over and over again — step, step, tap, tap; step, step, tap, tap — would anyone have noticed?

Certainly, the townspeople would; and perhaps his rigid philosophical outlook, his moral foundation of principles that forever retained the universality of truth — maybe rigidity may have faltered and we would all be the poorer for it.

Could his mind have expanded into other arenas of philosophical discourse had he traveled beyond and broken the habit that prevents?  Does one’s actions of daily monotony determine the “type” of mind, thoughts, conscious processes, cognitive approaches, etc., such that there are habits that limit, prevent, pause or otherwise freeze?

Habit is a peculiar trait for human beings; it offers both solace and a sense of security in the very regularity of its path, somewhat like the repetition of a musical stanza that is both anticipated and relished despite its very predictability.  It becomes a harmful dependency, however, when the habit that prevents begins to forestall, stunt and actively become an obstacle that restrains necessary growth.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it may well be that the habit that once allowed for success — of being punctual; of overextending one’s capacity in order to accomplish the impossible; of having such a dedication to “the mission” that one’s own health was always secondary — while honorable and laudatory while it lasted, may be the habit that now prevents.

Prevents what?  Of seeking greater health, of changing course in order to set a different goal; of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sometimes, the habit that was once a positive trait becomes one that prevents, depending upon changing circumstances and altering contexts, and for the Federal or Postal employee needing to break the habit of always working for the “mission of the agency” or to complete all tasks for the Postal Service, preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with OPM, may be the best next habit that results in more than the monotony of a daily walk, but a step which breaks the routine of all prior steps in order to reach an important goal — one’s health.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire