Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Macro & Microcosms

Reading the newspapers can be a tricky affair; for, while the importance of being “informed” must arguably override the need and desire to remain untroubled, one cannot but engage a short perusal before concluding that cataclysmic events daily dominate. Perhaps sensationalism and the competitive drive to sell a story requires the printing of negative news; or, maybe there is a journalistic force of integrity demanding that crimes, wars, ruination of reputation, and calamities both natural and man-made be the center of our attention.

The macrocosmic events which have little to no direct connection to our lives, are allowed in by our need to be informed; and, as gatekeepers of what enters our insular world of quietude, such disturbing allowances prevail upon us at our discretion. Medical conditions, of course, are of a different generic stripe.

Within the microcosm of our peaceful and mundane lives, the intrusion of a medical disability, whether of an acute and sudden nature, or of the more insidious, chronic and progressively debilitating nature, is akin to a stealthy burglar who invades without invitation, who creates havoc without discretion, and who leaves behind a trail of overturned chaos with little understanding or sympathy.  The microcosmic universe of one’s personal mind, body, soul and emotional balance, can turn into a turmoil of abysmal ravages no less than a war-torn nation some thousands of miles away, and having no direct connection to one’s town, neighborhood or household, but with just as devastating consequences.

For the Federal and Postal employee, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, is merely a trifle of a step in an attempt to stabilize the chaos one experiences when the microcosmic world of one’s creation becomes likened to the macrocosmic state of disastrous events.

Federal Disability Retirement is a “positive” step within a disintegrating universe impacted on a large scale by a deteriorating medical condition which prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing all of the essential elements of one’s job.  It is a goal sought in order to reach a state where one can attend to chasing out the proverbial burglar, or at least to straighten out the mess left behind.

In the end, try as we might, perhaps we can never truly escape the deep abyss of the human condition; and ultimately, perhaps it is best to cancel one’s subscription, and instead become lost in a novel about elves and hobbits. Ah, but we forget…there are those unseemly orcs, too.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Indicators

The technology of automobiles has changed radically in the past 2 decades.  No longer do we rely upon intuition, the automotive “ear” for that strange sound which, when talking to the service department, we attempt with futility to reenact with absurd pitches and tones in an attempt to accurately depict that which fails to occur when brought to the attention of the mechanic.  Instead, there are electronic warning lights and the computer sensors which specifically and with great detail indicate a past occurrence, a present problem, or a needed future course of action.

If the human body is the ultimate composite of neuro-sensors and complexities of the physical, the psychological, and the coalescence of mind, body and soul (including the philosophical “ghost in the machine“), then pain must be the warning indicator for past transgressions, current anomalies, and future need for servicing.  Those who ignore automotive warning signs do so at their peril; similarly, to ignore such signs emitted by the human body and transcribed in no uncertain terms via the daily chronicity of pain, do so with a singular certainty of progressive deterioration and decline.

Ultimately, the decision for the Federal or Postal Worker to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, must be accomplished once warning signs are heeded, and a blunt discussion with doctors, family and friends are engaged; but it is the pure and unadulterated ignoring of all signs which results in crisis and disaster.

The warning signs are there to heed; the future course of action is still left up to the recipient of such indicators.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: The Linguistic World of Mirrors

Mirrors are peculiar human inventions; they play to the vanity of men and women, while at the same time revealing the cosmetic warts and boils which remain unhidden and starkly open on display.  But linguistic mirrors take away that disadvantage of visual perception; instead, through the vehicle of words, one can create reflections of a fantasy world of make-believe, without ever having to confront the ugliness of reality.  Thus can we go through the day by surrounding ourselves with platitudes:  “It’s not that bad”; “You look good, today”; “Things will get better tomorrow”.  Linguistic mirrors avoid the direct reality of one’s reflection, and instead create a mythical world of statements bouncing back to the bearer of siphoned and filtered news.

Further, the one who surrounds himself with sycophants and yes-men can continue to live in a surreal world of compliments and make-believe for countless years, without suffering the consequences of objective reality.  And we can do that with medical conditions, too.  One can survive through years and years by avoiding the signals of progressive physical and cognitive deterioration.

Federal and Postal workers are quite good at this game of mirrors — that is why it often comes to a crisis point before Federal and Postal Workers consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS; and that is why Supervisors and Managers are surprised; and, moreover, at least one of the reasons why performance appraisals reflect “outstanding” throughout the years of pain and debilitating conditions.  But in the end, mirrors fade, crack, and reveal the ugliness beneath the cosmetic surface; and even words begin to fail.  Pain in the human body is an innate alert system that is fail-safe, and when the medical condition begins to manifest itself to the point where one can no longer mask the symptoms, the seriousness of it all becomes apparent.

Federal Disability Retirement is at least an option for Federal and Postal Workers to consider, in order to be released from the “true picture” of one’s conditions.  There are legal criteria to meet; medical statements to obtain; narrative statements to write; but all in good time, as we see the reflection in the mirror, and apply more cosmetic means to hide the reality of our true condition.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: The Clarion Call that Never Comes

Medical conditions are often subtle in their subversive impact — a slow, progressively deteriorating manifestation, characterized by pain, depletion of energy and stamina, and with manifestations of symptoms which may not be immediately noticeable with a passing glance.

Most of us meet and greet each other with hardly a glance; of “hello-how-are-yous” as polite niceties which are never meant to be seriously responded to; and in the course of such brief human contact, would not know — nor care to be informed of the details — of how a person truly “is” in the context of his or her life, medical condition, or well-being.

For the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, being ignored at work by one’s peers, coworkers and supervisors may have become a daily and expected occurrence.

In Medieval times, a clarion call represented a clear and loud trumpeting announcing an event, a call to action, or perhaps the arrival of someone of significance, relevance and importance.  For the Federal or Postal employee who may have to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, an expectation of an analogous call may never come, should not be waited upon, and likely will not occur.

Quietude is the pervasive norm in a society which is impersonal and unable to address each other with compassion or empathy.  Don’t expect a clarion call to be the focal point in deciding to act upon one’s medical condition; it is a call which will likely never be trumpeted, nor heard even if made.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: When It Is the Right Time

Most people know; and still others, know that the “right” time has already passed, and is long overdue.  Doctors have already shaken their heads in disbelief, disgust or with regretful expressions of facial futility; family members have begun to whisper behind backs; friends have stopped asking to include you for events which may require physical exertion or extensive conversations which require focus, concentration or cognitive stamina.

Federal and Postal employees all across the United States, and overseas where Civilian workers are stationed, put in long and dedicated hours to accomplish the mission of agencies.  The general public at large has been allowed to critically eye the Federal or Postal worker because they are being paid through high taxes, etc.  But Federal Disability Retirement is not a “handout”; it is merely an employment benefit which allows for disabled workers to go out and remain productive in the private sector, by being allowed to make up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays — and thereby continue to pay back into the system through paying of taxes, and essentially keeping it a “self-paying” system.  

No amount of shame or embarrassment should accompany the decision to file for Federal Disability benefits.  It is simply an acknowledgement which has already been realized by friends, family, and often one’s own treating doctor:  the right time has come because you have already “fought the good fight“, and it is time to move on to the next phase of life, and allow for the recuperative period of life take its course.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Listening to the Doctor

It is amazing how unaware we often are of our very surroundings, even when the circumstances and scenario directly impact us.  Doctors see dozens of patients per day, and the administrative aspects of their medical practice rarely engender excitement; for, while being a proponent of a patient to assist in the entirety of the recuperative process, writing a medical narrative report is not the crux (for most doctors) of that process.

However, when a doctor makes statements which clearly reveal the extent of administrative support that they are willing to provide, it is time to listen.  For example, if your treating doctor says something to the effect of, “Your job is clearly killing you,” or “you shouldn’t be doing this line of work,” or sometimes even the non-subtle approach of:  “You need to medically retire” — the response for the Federal or Postal employee who is seeking to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits should not be one of remaining silent, unaware, smiling distractedly, or even responding with, “Yes, I know, but…” with a trail of silence.  

That scenario is precisely the moment to seize, and to say to the doctor, “Doctor, I think that you are right.  Will you be willing to write a medical narrative report which would support me in my quest to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits, which would then allow me to recuperate from my medical condition?”  Such a conversation must have the cooperative participation of both the doctor and the patient.  For, if the doctor does not bring the subject up, and the Federal or Postal employee begins the process of seeking to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, the type of conversation-opener described herein will have to take place, anyway.  

If the doctor brings up the subject during any clinical examination or encounter, the pursuance of such a conversation should be taken advantage of.  The old saying that the doctor knows best is certainly illustrated when one’s treating doctor has opened the door to supporting the Federal or Postal employee in the quest to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire