OPM Medical Retirement: The Bygone Era of the Single Photograph

It sits upon a private pedestal, prominent for its centrality and foundational focus; it is that which lives are built upon, like the cornerstone which, if withdrawn, unravels the structural integrity and shatters the countenance of teleological significance. But with time, they fade; that which was thought to be timeless and withstanding of mortality, as with all things less than angels but stewards of God’s gifts; and the chemical admixtures which created the bright sheen in the first days thereafter, are now but fading glories of past experiences gathered through a lifetime of memories.

It used to be that photographs were special captives of a moment in time, frozen of significance, and encapsulated by relevance in the important event of a greater life.  The wedding photograph — that serious pose of two people, strangers but for a period of courtship, who stare into the lens where, in a flash of a frozen eternity of bliss, the images reflected upside down represent a commitment beyond mere contractual combining of lives.

Today, with digital cameras, the world is viewed through virtual reality, where experiences are no longer preserved for posterity, but where the perceptual “now” parallels the receptors of immediacy.  An event is no longer captured in a singular photograph; rather, the exponential explosion of the volume of images outpaces the memories which embraced them. But it is the singular moment which is remembered; its importance and relevance constitutes the uniqueness of who we are, what we strive for, and the future foundation upon which we build.

When medical conditions impact a person, the intervening event is a milestone of sorts, for those whose purpose of serious endeavors throughout a lifetime was captivated not by self-interest or preservation of ego, but because the pedestal of relevance mattered.  For Federal employee who suffers from an injury or other disabling condition, where the medical condition impacts the very foundation of a career, and therefore tears apart the fibers and filaments which bind the relevance of a lifetime of accomplishments, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the event itself — of having to acknowledge that one’s medical condition can no longer be consistently maintained and managed while working at all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal duties — often represents a fading of that singular photograph kept safe on a corner pedestal of time.

The medical condition itself is a trauma; filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management can be a further time of turmoil, precisely because it is an event of significance: of change, of foundational shattering, and an admission of mortality. Like the bygone era of the single photograph, the career which one chose when once youth beckoned with rash confidence, sits fading with time upon the acknowledgment that one’s medical condition has revealed the extent of one’s vulnerability in a world less caring than once promised.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

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