Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: An Altered Life of Habituation

Loss of stature and status can come in many forms; we think too often in terms of financial status, of material belongings, where we live, with whom we associate, and the subtle evaluation of social consciousness in relation to our neighbors, friends and family.  But as work constitutes a majority of the time we expend, we often fail to understand the profound impact that we subconsciously place upon the status and standing we perceive within the employment arena.  This is closely related to the conceptual viability of bifurcating our “time at work” and “closing the door behind us” when we exit our place of employment, get into the car, and begin the commute home.

More and more, of course, the traditional dichotomy between work and personal life has been destroyed with the intrusive nature of email, smart phones, laptops and the constant need to keep in communication via electronic media.  The sanctity of the home life is deteriorating; weekends are merely interludes of a slower pace of work; and Sundays are rarely categorized as days of unreachable separateness.

With all traditional social and employment walls disintegrated, it becomes all the more profoundly insidious when one’s employment is severely impacted by a medical condition.

For Federal and Postal employees who must consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the change from the status of “Federal employee” or “Postal Worker” to one of “Disability annuitant” can have a devastating psychological impact. For, in the end, it is not merely a change of status and stature; it is a profound alteration of a way of life, arrived at through habituation without thought, mindlessly embracing the insidiousness of technological intrusions which we never asked for and rarely sought.

The negative view for the Federal and Postal Worker is to myopically observe this profound change in sadness; the positive outlook is to have a fresh perspective, and to actually take the opportunity to use the time for rehabilitation of one’s health, perhaps just to be able to — for a brief moment in the history of one’s life — stop and smell the proverbial flower on the way out of the office door.

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 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 Employee Medical Retirement: Existence and Being

There is a distinction between existence and being; for the former is something which merely “is”, and over which one has no control over, or the capacity of which to have any input; while the latter is the composite of the essence of who we are — the coalescence of one’s past, present, and future potentiality.

Heidegger’s life work encompassed the attempt to describe the search for being, the revelatory recognition of it, and the systematic approach to unravelling the hidden fullness of being.  It is the difference between going through the motions, and living an authentic life.

That is how Federal and Postal employees often feel just before contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS — for the state of merely existing in order to trudge to work, in order to “get through the day”, only to return home, to sleep, to struggle, to regain one’s strength, energy and stamina for a reserve to be depleted for another day of work; such a process describes an existence, not a state of being.

That is also why scams and “get-rich-quick” schemes continue to successfully con so many — because most people consider themselves merely in a state of existence, waiting to be saved for a life of being, but mistake the conversion from the former to the latter as dependent and reliant upon more money, greater acquisition of wealth, and accumulation of property.  But it is good health and the ability to be pain-free, which forms the foundation for a true state of being.

Disability Retirement for the Federal or Postal Worker is a means of attaining a state of being where rehabilitation and escape from the treadmill of progressive deterioration is possible.  That bifurcation which Heidegger attempted to describe — between a state of mere existence, and the lifting of the veil upon Being — should be seriously considered.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Heidegger, Being, Essence and Value

Heidegger represents a culmination of sorts — of a philosopher caught in the historicity of his own time and making (with allegations of collaborating with the Nazi party), while proposing a methodology of modern philosophy which embraces the issues important to modernity — essence, value, and the meaning of one’s existence.

In this society of technological adaptation, where the separation of humanity from machines, and the chasm of isolation which expands exponentially, resulting in greater incidents of psychiatric desolation; it is important to pause and reflect upon the value of the human being.

For the Federal or Postal employee who has worked tirelessly to “advance the mission of the agency”, but who now finds him/herself with a medical condition which prevents him/her from performing all of the essential elements of one’s job — how does the agency act/react?  Does it manifest compassion, empathy, and most importantly — loyalty?

In order for the conceptual paradigm of “loyalty” to have any meaning, it must be bilateral — meaning, inclusive in both directions.  But too often, loyalty is based merely on “what has he/she done for the agency today?”  The meaning of one’s existence is too closely tied to one’s work; the value of human worth is too easily discarded when one’s work is disrupted; and the truth of one’s being is too readily revealed when a medical condition intersects and interrupts one’s ability/inability to perform one’s job.

Heidegger, in the end, was probably right; the “things” we do are mere distractions to the ultimate fate of our being; but in the meantime, we must continue to strive, to live.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit which exists in order to continue to live.  It allows for a Federal or Postal worker to continue in another vocation, and to have that rehabilitative period to focus upon the important things in life:  of health, of value, and of family relationships.  Don’t tie yourself too closely to some faceless agency’s “mission”; the first and primary mission is the worth of the individual human being.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Meaning, Value and Worth

One watches, as a spectator at a sports event, multiple acts by individuals who engage in self-destructive behavior; of youth and potentialities wasted; of depictions of foolish behavior and that which reflects upon the disintegration of society, and perhaps of civilization; and one may ask the perennial question, “Why?”, yet never be capable of embracing an answer with words when language fails to represent reality.  One wonders whether it is ultimately an issue of meaning, value and worth.

In an antiseptic society, where the pursuit of happiness is often misinterpreted as the acquisition of possessions, it is easy to lose sight of meaning.  Until one is hit with an illness or chronic medical condition.  Then, managing the care of one’s medical condition becomes paramount, and suddenly meaning, value and worth come into sharp focus.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, people often fall into one of two categories or classes:  Those who were quite content with their lives prior to the medical condition; and those who struggled, and on top of it all, had to deal with a progressively deteriorating medical condition.

Regardless of the ‘prior’ category of life, the medical condition itself becomes the focus of the Federal or Postal employee in the pursuit of a stage of life prior to the impact of that condition upon one’s vocation or ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job.  Suddenly, the life ‘before’ was one of meaning, value and worth.

Filing for, and obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management allows for one to attain some semblance of the prior life of meaning, worth and value.  It is not the Federal or Postal employee who will engage in random and meaningless acts of violence in an attempt to destroy society; they are the ones who are attempting to secure it.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: The Price One Pays

One hears the familiar refrain:  trying to “game” the system; taking handouts; being on the government’s dole; and multiple similar allegations and assumptions.  Perhaps there are some who receive benefits which may be considered welfare-type compensation; and, maybe there are those who attempt to obtain something for nothing — or very little.  But one must be firm in making the conceptual distinction between those “others” and Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

First, the Federal and Postal employee works — and works hard and long hours.  Second, Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit which is part of the total compensation package for the Federal or Postal employee.  Third, Federal Disability Retirement pays a pittance in comparison with the compensatory standard of living which the Federal or Postal employee has been used to, and no sane person would take a voluntary reduction of one’s livelihood merely to get on the “dole”.  Fourth, many — if not most — of those who receive Federal Disability Retirement benefits pay back into the system, by getting a part-time or full-time job in another vocation, thereby paying taxes, FICA, etc.  And Fifth, it is the Federal Disability Retirement annuitant who is the one who pays the price — by having endured the repetitive work to such an extent that he or she has become debilitated; or withstood the abusive mental and physical requirements of one’s position which ultimately necessitated the drastic reduction in pay and forced to take a Federal Disability Retirement annuity.

It is the one who must pay the price — the Federal and Postal employee — who should be complaining; those who stand on the sidelines merely utter words.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: OWCP, SSD, NRP, Etc.

Nothing works in a vacuum.  Issues surround medical disabilities, the Federal and Postal workforce, Social Security Disability benefits, and Federal Disability Retirement benefits, as well as temporary total disability benefits received from the Department of Labor, Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs — they all intersect in one way or another, and the intersection of all of the issues create a maze of confusion which is often difficult for the Federal or Postal worker to successfully maneuver through the multiple landmines, dead-ends and potential traps. 

Such intersecting difficulties also arise in what the Postal Service has initiated in the last few years — the “National Reassessment Program” — a euphemism for a massive attempt to get rid of anyone and anyone who is not fully productive.  Under this program, the Postal Service is essentially getting rid of all light-duty assignments; and, of course, such a program intersects with Federal Worker’s Comp, because many light-duty or “modified duty” employees are under the umbrella of OWCP-offered work assignments and modified positions and duties.  People are sent home with the reason given that there is no longer any “light duty” jobs; they are then instructed or forced into filing for OWCP benefits; whether Worker’s Comp will actually pay for temporary total disability is a big question mark. 

Ultimately, I believe that the answer will be found in filing for OPM Federal Disability Retirement benefits. The NRP (National Reassessment Program) is simply a macrocosmic approach of a large agency (the U.S. Postal Service), mirroring a microcosmic approach (the approach of most agencies towards individual Federal or Postal employees who have a medical condition which prevents him or her from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job) in dealing with “less than fully productive” Federal or Postal employees.  Then, of course, there is the intersecting issue of filing for Social Security Disability benefits, which you have to do anyway, under FERS — but whether one actually gets it, is another issue.  All of these issues intersect; rarely are these issues isolated; the consequential impact of all of these issues need to be viewed in a macro manner.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire