OPM Disability Retirement: Cycles of reality & unreality

The linear model of life is the preferred perspective for the Western world; the cyclical, for the traditional Eastern sector, as well as the indigenous cultures of the Americas; whether such an outlook alters the way in which we live is debatable.  In either or for both, however, it is the passing through of various realities and “unrealities” that is often overlooked, and not whether or not there is a straight and linear road as opposed to a cycle of returns and reenactments.

Reality is the being we encounter; unreality, the life within our minds and souls, depicted by thoughts, emotions, daydreams and nightmares.  How the two interact, whether in cyclical form or in a linear continuum, often defines how well we are able to adjust in maneuvering through the difficult passages of life.

We encounter “others” in the reality of our being; but as to the “other” person’s thoughts, feelings, history of life and other subjective issues, we know nothing about them except what we are told.  We could work beside another individual in an office setting and never truly know the “unreality” of his or her life, and when we retire, the office throws a party, and we depart and suddenly realize that the cycle of reality was a limited one, and the subjective unreality of another person’s life never really touched us.

Or, one is married to another for a decade, two decades, perhaps even three, and a cycle of reality is embraced where life becomes a routine, taking each other for granted through habit of form, monotony of repetition and predictability of actions.  Yet, after some decades, the significant other does something completely “out of character” – suddenly dyes his or her hair purple, goes bungee jumping or unannounced gets his or her nose pierced without telling anyone.  When asked, the reply is: “Oh, I got bored and decided to do something different.”

That is when the cycle of unreality suddenly surfaces into the boundaries of reality, and we suddenly realize, again and again, and are reminded fortuitously, that there is a subjective unreality that we can never quite pierce or fully comprehend, just as others cannot of our own.

That is what often happens with a medical condition.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the question often asked is:  “When do I tell my agency”?  Isn’t that a peculiar question – as if no one at the agency knew or knows about your ongoing medical condition, and that filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through OPM is going to be a complete surprise to everyone?

But that is, indeed, the reality of the unreal, where those around you are completely oblivious of the pain, the turmoil and the complications of those medical conditions you have had to deal with for so many years.  It is, in one sense, rather sad; but it represents the cycles of reality & unreality in an uncaring universe which prompts such an empty feeling when the question asked doesn’t quite have an answer to be given.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

Early Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: Magic extinguished

Once, we were all children.  Of dreams once entertained, and roles of play-acting embraced; when once lines between reality and fantasy blurred like the fireflies burning brightly against the midnight sky, only to disappear and reappear, then fade into the quietude of dawn’s inevitable encroachment; and we, like fairies and angels on wings of carefree butterflies, wrapped in colors unimaginable but for unfettered naiveness and fenceless pastures of creativity, ran through the fields of time unconcerned with the worries and tumults of adulthood and the withering trials of timeless eternity which one day, not long hence, would come to gather up the faces of consternation, because we had to “grow up”.

There was magic, then, unextinguished even for the child with forlorn eyes who was constantly yelled at, heard through the walls of societal ingratitude, and when friends and neighbors huddled and shrugged, hoping against fear that Emily would not be spanked and Benny would not be kept behind.  That magic became extinguished — not because we didn’t care, or that grownups can’t remember what it is like to be childlike and innocent; but because life intervenes, interrupts, and disrupts the flow of humanity; because meanness prevails and technology assails; and because, while we say we care, and some of us do, we just don’t care “enough”.

Then, there are the “realities” of life — of making a living, embracing a career, getting married and doing all of that “stuff” that entanglements with another soul comes bundled with, and suddenly the uncomplicated mind where a stick becomes a sword, a pasture becomes a battleground, and the short, fat kid is named Napoleon, disappears like the wisp of willows bending at the easterly winds suddenly snaps, and we are back to facing the problems of life.  And medical conditions.

That is often the tragic mold of the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker who must cut short his or her career because of a medical condition; fortunately, however, under FERS & CSRS, or even CSRS Offset, you can file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Does attaining an OPM Disability Retirement annuity bring back one’s childhood?  No.  Does it guarantee happiness? Nothing ever does.  But that is the telltale sign of adulthood — of recognizing the chasm between expectation and reality.  The process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Employee OPM Disability Retirement benefits is a long and arduous one, and it is beset with potential bureaucratic entanglements and complex legal challenges which must be faced with calm rationality.

Brave hearts and vanguard souls must always face and endure, but it is often the best course of action in order to attain the next phase for one’s life, in order to care for one’s medical condition and achieve that level of equanimity for life’s future challenges.  Yes, perhaps the magic of childhood lore has been extinguished forever, and the adult life’s “stuff” has replaced those yawning days of make-believe; but of the future, what remains is that which we make of it, whether in making it up as we go or mucking it up further.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement: Dickens, Salinger & Capote

It is always dangerous to offer an overview of complexity; simplicity of explanation often teeters upon the precipice of superficiality, and when it comes to the psychology of people, we normally get it wrong.  Yet, we can try.

For Dickens, the childhood experiences of destitution and humble beginnings allowed for a magnification of love for humanity borne of cruelty in childhood.  In Salinger, we see the pent-up destruction of a young man whose anguish was molded through sights, sounds and experiences devastated by war.  And of Capote, we glean the lasting scars of rejection, first with minor cuts and burns by the divorce of his parents, then deeper in being bounced about by relatives, only to stab him with disappointment when his childhood friend, Harper Lee, received the accolades and universal love he sought so passionately, needed beyond all others, but never felt but for the loss of that which he could not embrace.

The life experiences each encountered reflected, in the end, upon the exhibition of an inner soul:  Dickens continued to provide the public with readings of characters forever loved, and embraced the sea of admiration which was the source of his limitless imaginations, borne of a world which tried to contain him with a system of caste and class.

Salinger retreated more and more into the insular world of his own safe web of privacy and secrecy, having concluded that the world was not to be trusted, that phoniness lurked in every man’s soul, and the horrors witnessed at the hands of war and concentration camps were evidence enough to deny others anything remaining.

And for Capote — we may sum it up in the cruel but crisp truism upon his death, by fellow author Gore Vidal, who quipped that it was a “good career move”.  Acting ever the fool with drunkenness and debauchery, the public destruction of a talent so extraordinary was a painful sight to witness.

Can we learn anything from these paragons of talent?  Or, are such characters merely of our own creations, snickering at the fact that, even where seemingly boundless talent exists and opportunities reflect limitless choices, self-destruction nevertheless becomes the teleology of choice.  At a minimum, they reveal to us the complexity of human essence, and that what people react to on the outside barely scratches the surface of what remains within.

And this is the same for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are harassed and intimidated in the workplace, when a medical condition results in the necessity to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  For, the coworkers, managers and supervisors who treat the Federal or Postal worker as nothing more than a nuisance through loss of productivity, fails to address the core value of the individual suffering at the hands of consequences not chosen through self-destructive behavior, but merely because of fate of circumstances.

The key for the Federal and Postal worker both, is to choose a path which refuses to submit to self-immolation resulting from the negative experiences at the hands of others; rather, to embrace the love of others as Dickens did, and not retreat into the insular retardation of life as Salinger proposed, or the reverberating echoes made by the empty bottle of alcohol, drowning in later life as Capote consumed, shuddering with the laughter of others and snickering for want of fools in his diminishing stature, ever losing the love which he sought so selfishly.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal & Postal Employees: Fear Untethered

It is of evolutionary advantage for a healthy dose to allow; what amount, whether it can be quantified, and to what extent instinct should be restrained before intersecting rage and reactive violence meet, is a question, a puzzle and a conundrum.  An animal in fear is both broken and dangerous, and the corollary of the two sides of a singular coin reveals the thin line between innate survival instincts which we attempt to linguistically describe, but are at a disadvantage precisely because words are ultimately inadequate in reflecting reality.

Tethering our fears is a lifelong process for everyone; the balance between healthy bridling and repressive dangers where outlets are disallowed but when expression of ignored or unattended trauma may erupt in later discourses of life and leniency of self, validates the delicacy of our sensitive natures.  To be overbearing or detachedly impervious; to allow for expression beyond therapeutic value, or to blithely shut down all channels of thought and numbing emotions of eruptive tremblings of sobbing heaves; the tightrope of life leaves little room for error on either side of the equation.

We often speak in terms of “how much” and “what amount”, as if human frailty can be mixed in a crockpot of ingredients thrown by whim of recipe; a dash of solvent emotion here, a teaspoon of corrective stoicism over here.  The reality of the situation is that fear rules most of us; we just never allow the untethering of it to be revealed too soon, for greater fear of being found out, like the emperor whose clothes we knew to not exist, but were too cowardly to admit, until the boldness of a child took the lead in shattering the facade of our own making.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, the emotion of fear is a known quantity.  Little fiefdoms and feudal fares of power plays occur as daily soap operas unraveling despite the bureaucracy of rules, regulations and administrative forces of containment.

Then, when the Federal or Postal employee begins to suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to threaten and impact the Federal or Postal employee’s ability or capacity to perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal positional duties, the fears which were once effectively tethered begin to uncoil, as future uncertainty and suspicion of motives in the unexplained actions of others and the agency whispers begin to foment those recesses of evolutionary cries for survival and rage.

Medical conditions tend to do that:  they feed upon themselves, and exponentially magnify and exacerbate those very fears we were previously able to restrain, contain and maintain.  It is important in the time of fear and untethering of emotions, to seek wise counsel and obtain some direction in preparing, formulating and filing for an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

For, in the end, fear untethered is like the pinnacle of the forgotten nightmare, when the abyss of sweat and trembling reaches a climax of unknown proportions, and when screams are no longer heard, pleas no longer considered, and the grace of angels flying beyond into the netherworld of residues where the golden dust of forgiveness is sprinkled afar.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire