OPM Medical Retirement: Living “As If”

We all engage in it; it is a pastime, of sorts, which is enjoyed by the multitude, and reveals the imaginative capacity of the human animal, but with lingering questions concerning the evolutionary viability and purpose as to the utility of the need.

James Thurber’s “Walter Mitty” (the full title of the short story, which first appeared in The New Yorker in 1939, is “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”) relished the inherent escapism provided by the contrasting chasm between the monotony and oppressive reality of daily living in comparison to the far reaches of one’s imagination, thereby revealing the unconstrained heights of the human mind.

Living as if the reality of the objective world is not as it is, can be both enjoyable and healthy.  In this technological age of unfettered virtual reality, of computer-generated imagery melding the borders between that which constitutes reality and fantasy; and where little room is left to the imagination; perhaps the death of the world of imagination is about to occur.  Is that a good thing?

The problem with living “as if” has always been the other side of the two-edged knife:  the value of the first edge was always the creativity and imagination which revealed the powers of the human mind; but too much escapism, and one entered the world of self-delusion and consequential harm resulting from inattentive avoidance generated by reality’s harshness.

Some things just cannot be put aside for long.  Medical conditions tend to fall into that category, precisely because they require greater attendance to life, not less.  And that, too, is the anomaly of daily living:  when calamity hits, the world requires more, just when it is the reality of human compassion and empathy which is needed.

In the world of fantasy, those values of virtue which makes unique the human animal become exaggerated.  We enter into a world filled with excessive warmth, humanity, empathy and saving grace; when, in reality, those are the very characteristics which become exponentially magnified during times of crisis.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties in the Federal government or the U.S. Postal Service, the idea that the workplace may reveal support and accommodation for one’s medical condition is usually quickly and expeditiously quashed.

Federal and Postal workers who have given their unaccounted-for time, energy, and lives throughout the years, and who suddenly find that they cannot perform at the level and optimum capacity as days of yore, find that reality and fantasy collide to create a stark reality of disappointment.  When such a state of affairs becomes a conscious reality, consideration should always be given to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

It is an employment benefit accorded to all Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, and must ultimately be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (if one is still with the agency or on the rolls of the U.S. Postal Service, then the application for Federal Medical Retirement must first be filed through one’s Human Resource Office; or, if separated but less than 31 days since the date of separation, also through one’s own agency; but if separated for more than 31 days, then directly with OPM, but within 1 year of separation from Federal Service).

In the end, of course, the wandering imagination of the human mind only reveals an innate calling and need to escape.  Whether that call into the far recesses of fantasy reveals a defect of human capacity, or a scent of the heavenly within the brutish world of stark reality, is something which we should perhaps never question.  For, even on the darkest of days, when clouds of foreboding nightmares gather to portend of difficult days ahead, it is that slight smile upon the face of a person daydreaming amidst the halls of daily reality, that sometimes makes life livable and serene despite the calamitous howls of ravenous wolves snarling in the distant harkening of time.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Magnifying Event

The notable characteristic of a medical condition is that they rarely go away via wishful thinking and, moreover, while rest may provide a restorative period of relief, the return to performing activities which further exacerbate one’s condition further magnifies not only the chronicity and severity of the condition, but the need for additional restorative periods of relief.

That is why, in a Federal Disability Retirement case, the focus is upon the nexus between one’s medical condition and the essential elements of one’s job.  For the former, the nexus pinpoints the type of medical condition by focusing upon the primary aspects of the work; for the latter, that very connection between the former and latter magnifies the impact of the medical condition and why it is that Federal Disability Retirement benefits are needed and justified.

Whether a person is on furlough during this temporary period of insanity, or whether one has previously taken an extraordinary amount of Sick Leave, Annual Leave, or Leave without Pay, is an irrelevant issue in the end; for, the very need to take such excessive time off, as well as the inverse issue of growing work performance questions, both are magnifying events of the same revelation:  the medical condition is further exacerbated by the continuation of certain activities, and the activities are progressively prevented by the medical conditions.

Preparing the steps to formulating an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, begins with the recognition that the ultimate answer lies not in the temporary and palliative nature of a week’s time off, but in the realization that one is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, for the long term.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Habit Encountering Critical Mass

Most people live lives of peaceful habituation; and while Henry David Thoreau would add that they live “lives of quiet desperation,” such a state of desperation erupts only when the habit of daily living, whether quiet or not, is interrupted by an event or a series of events.

Those who retain their health, or have never encountered a period of chronic medical conditions, can never fully comprehend the tumult and trials of such impact — upon one’s professional life, certainly, but moreover, upon the private life of quiet habit, of merely attempting to sit in a chair; to read; to engage in a leisure activity.  But “leisure” can be enjoyed only if the substantive life of habitual endurance can be lived in a relatively peaceful manner.

For those who have come to a point of contemplating preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, that former life of peace and quietude — of that “boring” daily habit of thoughtless living — must now be confronted with the reality of a medical situation which must be aggressively pursued, in order to secure one’s future, and to retain some semblance of peace back into one’s life.

Those Federal or Postal employees who must fight for Federal Disability Retirement benefits — ah, but if only they could have remained in their peaceful lives of daily habituation.  But the encounter with the reality of a medical condition awakens them from such peace and repetitive living; there comes a point when a different course must be affirmatively taken, with obstacles dropped in the path — from a hostile work environment, to coworkers and family members who show no empathy — but the fight must be fought, so that one day the disrupted life of quietude may once again be attained in some semblance of sanity.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Day after Christmas, and Beyond

Unfortunately, we tend to focus up specific days and events, and overlook the “greater picture” in our daily lives; and so it is with Christmas, and New Years, etc.  Christmas is a day of great importance; it represents a day marking the beginning of one’s faith; and the “New Year” often marks a dividing point where resolutions and “new beginnings” are contemplated.

But for Federal and Postal employees contemplating Federal Disability Retirement under FERS & CSRS, the underlying and chronic medical condition continues to persist with or without any specific date.  And so, when the focus upon a specific date comes and goes, and one realizes that the time with family and friends has not solved the underlying problem of medical condition, work, the future and what to do, then the problem of procrastination — of ascribing another “future” date to look forward to, without attending to the immediacy of the problem at hand, continues indefinitely.

It is always important to affirmatively take hold of one’s situation, and begin to systematically make decisions, and to segregate the multiple and complex problems surrounding medical disabilities and their attendant problems, and to make decisions on one problem at a time.  It begins with making the first decision.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: The Right Time (Part 2)

How to determine when is the “right” time to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS, and when is the right time — those are issues which are quite personal and peculiar to each individual case.  Unfortunately, it is the very inherent nature of medical conditions, medical disabilities, and the chronic & debilitating symptoms that accompany such conditions, combined with the strong sense of loyalty, commitment to duty, and the desire to continue to believe that a Federal or Postal worker will overcome the current condition of disability — that often prevents a person to come to the critical point of determining the “right time”.  And, to put it in its proper perspective, this is probably a good thing, insofar as being a reflection upon the character of most individuals. 

Most individuals have a strong sense of commitment and hard work, and most want to continue to believe that one’s condition of medical disability is merely a temporary state of affairs.  But when such loyalty and commitment comes at the price of one’s personal detriment, it becomes a negative thing.  The problem comes when all of the objective indicators are ignored — when sick and annual leave are being depleted; when excessive LWOP is taken; when performance at work clearly suffers; when each night and weekend are used to recuperate from the day’s work; when savings become depleted; when a sense of desperation sets in.  Then, when it comes time to make the decision, it becomes an emergency. At that point, while it is not too late to begin the process, it is probably less than the “right time” to have started the process.  While better late than never, it is a good thing to take affirmative control of one’s future, and not let events control it uncontrollably.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire