Medical Retirement under FERS: Revisiting Updike

He wrote about mundane things; of middle class neighborhoods, Pennsylvania towns in which he grew up; farmlands before strip malls replaced them against the skyline of cornfield rows; and of affairs that grew naturally out of a revolution emancipated from the Sixties; of quiet sufferings and the rhythmic monotony of ordinary lives.

John Updike was an “in-betweener” — too young to fight in WWII, too old to have been drafter for the Vietnam debacle; and so he experienced the quietude and normalcy in between the two bookends of this country’s tumult and trials.

Updike was a voice for generations who saw the post-war era, of baby-boomers and American prosperity at its zenith; of the loss of any normative confluence of moral dictum and the abandonment of constraints once imposed by Protestantism.  All, of course, with a twinkle in his eye and a ready smile.  The Internet abounds with photographs of this uniquely American author — almost all with that thin smile as if he was about to share a private joke.

The Tetralogy of the Rabbit novels (actually a quintet if you include the last of the series, a novella entitled “Rabbit Remembered”) evinces a country gone soft after the harsh period of the Great Depression, the Second World War, the Korean conflict and the Vietnam era that undermined the ethical mandates known for generations before, unleashing a liberty of hidden sins like a bubbling cauldron of untamed desires.  But in the end, he is best known for the mundane, the ordinary, and how life in the suburbs of a prosperous nation left an emptiness unspeakable except by a voice given in narrative brilliance, from an author who was a regular contributor to The New Yorker.

Somehow, he made the ordinary seem exciting, even relevant.  By contrast, modernity has focused upon the rich and famous, and of greater unreachable glamour where perfection surpasses pragmatism.  Updike was able to make the commonplace seem important, the ordinary appear significant and the monotony of the mundane as not merely prosaic.  And isn’t that all that we seek, in the end?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the loss of relevance, the ordinary and the commonplace is what often scares the Federal or Postal employee.

The job itself; the career; the monotonous routine of going to work, yet finding relevance in the act of “making a living” — these were all taken for granted in Updike’s short stories.  That other stuff — of infidelities and dalliances — were a deviation that Updike tried to point out as mere fluff in otherwise ordinary lives; and of medical conditions, they upend and disrupt the normalcy we all crave.

Federal Disability Retirement is a means to an end — of bringing back balance within a life that has become disrupted, but it is a way to bring back order where disruption to the mundane has left behind a trail of chaos.  And to that, the twinkle in Updike’s eyes and the thin smile would tell us that he would approve of such a move which will return you back to a life of mundane normalcy.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Distractions

They are the projects of life of which Heidegger recognizes, allowing for avoiding the inevitabilities of life’s challenges; of fate, mortality, future insecurity, and death.  What quantifiable slice of one’s life is governed by distractions?  Must it always be less than 50% in order to remain so, and if it exceeds that halfway point, does it then become something substantive and not merely the peripheral meaning of what it means to “be distracted”?  If a distraction is considered to be an aside – that which waylays a person’s attention by focusing upon a central project of life’s endeavor – what then defines an inversion of that perspective?

Take, for example, the following:  A mechanical engineer is working on a technical project that consumes one’s focus, concentration and attention to detail, but has a unique and eccentric ophthalmological condition, whereby the eyes are compelled to follow any and all red objects that pass by.

Now, the company has attempted to accommodate the medical condition by requesting that no employee shall enter into the mechanical workshop wearing red, but on this particular day, some investors are visiting, and a man in the troop of intruders is wearing a red tie, and a woman in the entourage is sporting a red sweater.  They go from bench station to the next cubicle, within the purview and arc of dimensional periphery of the eccentric man’s attention, and with each movement, every sidelong blur, his eyes are “distracted” by the red moving objects.

Out of every minute of work, fully 45 seconds are spent on focusing upon the red objects that detract from the necessary mental acuity attending to the project at hand, and indeed, while they are far enough away such that from an objective viewpoint, the objects are mere inches in proportion and are of a distance as to almost be unnoticeable to others in the group of engineers, for the eccentric mechanical engineer, it is the focal point of his attentions.

The distraction is such that it disrupts the sequence of testing conditions and interrupts the validity of the technical precision required, and a coworker finally declares, “You’ve been too distracted and the project has to be scrapped.”  Would we agree that, because of the numerical disproportionality of concentration attributable, “red-object observation” takes precedence as the primary project, and it is the engineering project that is the distraction?  Or, because it is a medical condition of which he “cannot help it”, do we excuse the distraction in its entirety?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, the central point made here is precisely how the Federal agency and the Postal facility views the issues significant in a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Federal Agencies and the U.S. Postal Service possess a myopic view of “work”, and even if the Federal or Postal employee is able to continue making valuable contributions to the workplace, they often see the differentiation between “work” and “distractions” as one quantifiable by time alone.  This is too bad, but a reality that must be faced.  For, medical conditions are not mere distractions; they are life’s interludes that can often be faced and overcome, if only outmoded ideas about what constitutes workplace contributions are set aside, and realize that even distractions delaying the central mission of a Federal agency or Postal facility are not the most important, or even of much significance, when it comes to the worth and value of a human life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Gov. Employment: Degree versus knowledge

Does a degree hold as much worth, if everyone possesses one?  Why are the economics of supply and demand not attached to degrees conferred by so-called institutions of “higher learning”?  Is the degree conferred of value because of the opportunities granted by the elevated status, or by the knowledge gained and imparted?  Or is the disjunctive bifurcation into universes of counterparts, between diploma represented as opposed to a jewelry box of wisdom, an offer of false alternatives, when some may indeed gain knowledge as well as certification in completion of courses advanced?

If everything is nothing, and nothing constitutes the combined aggregate of everything, can a distinction with a difference be proffered?  So, if everyone has gone to college, and the conferring of a degree is disseminated to all, has nothing been gained by the accessibility to everything?  It is, of course, best represented by Cordelia in Shakespeare’s Tragedy, King Lear, where he responds to the hesitant daughter, “Nothing will come of nothing”, and entreats her to further to expound by extravagant and flowery profusion of meaningless trope; or would it have been meaningless?

The silence which ensues between the cacophony of emotions in the short scene is painful and agonizing.  The old king whose feelings have been devastated; the insincere showering of expressed flattery by his other daughters; the pauses and elongated silences between entreaty and loss of words; for, it is ultimately that wide expanse and abyss between the words fabricated and the intent revealed, which formalizes the fate of a person’s soul and destined catastrophe.

It is the identical nature of a degree versus knowledge, and there are multiple parallels and counterparts of such contending artifices of conceptual constructs enamored; of silence versus quietude; of peace which merely poses as a veil for a ceasefire.  Knowledge is what is lacking in a society that promotes glitter, padded resume and degrees dispensed with abandon and devalued wisdom.

There are exceptions, however, and the pragmatic cynic will counter with:  Would you allow an individual without a medical degree to perform surgery upon a vital organ?  The answer, of course, is an unqualified “no”.  And that is why, in a Federal Disability Retirement application, the case-law conferred and rendered by Administrative Law Judges at the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board have consistently held that a treating doctor possesses the greater credibility in formulating an effective Federal Disability Retirement application in a Federal Disability Retirement case, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

For, like the issue surrounding the distinction between “degree” versus “knowledge”, the medical doctor who has never treated a particular patient, but who certifies that the Federal or Postal worker is unable to perform one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal employee’s positional duties, is likened to a person who wears the formalities of credentials, but lacks the individualized knowledge elevated to the heightened ascendency to wisdom, representing the doctor who has had multiple clinical encounters and can determine the capacity and capabilities of the Federal Disability Retirement applicant with confidence paralleling the man of knowledge who may lack a degree, but never fails to notice the pitfalls present on the pathway to an unlit gaze upon the heavenly stars of folly.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Benefits under FERS & CSRS: The Art of Living

The imperfect medical science and taking the option of Federal Disability Retirement

Art is the unleashing of a creative mind, unconcealed to flourish without constraints of physical laws; science, in contrast, must follow the dictates of an objective universe, attempting to understand that which is concealed, unrevealed, and within the mysterious imprint of hidden codes.

Whether medical science is that far removed from latter days of sorcerers and shamans, people can debate; it is, however, the success of modern science and medicine, which establishes credibility with the populace.  But while disciplines rise or fall based upon the pragmatic considerations of success of the last procedure performed, people must go on living — in the face of disciplines yet imperfect.

Bloodletting was believed for centuries to maintain the balance of a person: blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile, constituted the necessary elements, and when any single element dominated the others, releasing the over-accumulation required bleeding of the body to regain that equity of humors.  If, in any singular instance of bloodletting, the patient became well thereafter and recovered from the malady, the “success” of the bloodletting would only have reinforced the underlying foundational principle behind the physical act and medical belief.

Living a life is often more akin to bloodletting than to the cold halls of science; for it is within the subjective confines of perspectives which predetermine the actions we often engage.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, the years and decades of attempting to “get better” by seeking medical treatment result in an inescapable reality:   If the science of medicine had reached a pinnacle of perfection, filing for Federal Disability Retirement would not be necessary; for, perfection in medicine would equal a cure. But as science is not a perfect principle, and neither is the art of living, so the practical truth is that one must resort to a metaphorical engagement of bloodletting: something in life has to give, and the imbalance of humors of yore is often the stresses of modernity.

Federal Disability Retirement, offered to all Federal and Postal employees under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is not the perfect option, but it is a recognition that the humors of life are out of balance, and need some bloodletting.

Work is the element which has become “over-accumulated”, and that is why Federal Disability Retirement is like the placing of leeches upon the sickened body:  it may not be the best option, but where art of living is concerned, the balancing of humors is often preferable to the crumbling halls of an ivory tower once thought to hold the key to the mysteries of life’s misgivings.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Employees from the Postal Service and Other Federal Agencies: Things That Go Bump in the Night

The nightmare of filing for FERS Disability Retirement in times of financial, emotional, and medical needs

Whether or not childhood fear and traumas have a long-term impact in determinable ways upon reactive capacities later in life; to what extent regularity of behaviors, consistency of habitual living, and early imprinting mechanisms influence subconscious firings of synapses, remains within the mysterious realm of esoteric knowledge investigated and analyzed by the coalescence of science, philosophy and psychology; but it is the lay person who must, during the process of unfolding discovery and wisdom, live the consequences of actions impacted by others.

Sometimes, however, it is not what others do, but rather, circumstances which manifest of untold trauma and misery, for which no explanation but a shrug of one’s shoulders can presume.  Medical conditions fall into that category.  How one reacts to it; the extent of the impact upon one’s life, livelihood and future; and the preparations one must undertake in order to secure the betterment for one’s life when once you get beyond the condition itself, if ever; these are all concerns and pathways of responsibilities which fall upon a person who suddenly finds him or herself with a medical condition of significant magnitude.

Whether physical in nature — where orthopedic pain, limitation of flexion and movement; chronic pain, profound fatigue, or neurological issues resulting from disc desiccation, internal derangement of joints, etc.; or of psychiatric issues encompassing the many complex diagnoses, including Bipolar Disorder, pain and anxiety issues, Major Depression, depressive disorders; it matters not in the end, for either and both impact those decisions which one must make in determining the pathway of one’s future.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who find that a medical condition impacts one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, consideration must always be given to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

For Federal Disability Retirement, preconditions and pre-existing conditions matter not; it is not like an OWCP claim where the focus of query may attempt to undermine a claim based upon the origin of the condition; and so the “how” and the “why” are not relevant issues, as in “how did it happen” or “why did it occur”?  The relevant inquiry does not encompass the “time before”; it does not delve into the deep reaches of one’s damaged psyche, or of preexistent traumas in the far recesses of damaged lives.

Whether or not things go bump in the night when once we become adults matters less, than the experiential trauma of having to deal with present issues that impact one immediately.  Taking care of life’s interruptions is a necessary component of living, and for Federal and Postal workers whose future avenue of livelihood is impacted by a medical condition, preparing, formulating and filing for Federal OPM Disability Retirement is of paramount importance.

Bumps always tend to occur in the night; it is what the “thing” is that we must identify and resolve, and what bodes for the uncertain future into which we must venture.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire