Filing for FERS Disability Retirement: The Time to Decide

The process of decision-making comes in all forms: Of procrastination until one is forced into making one; of deliberative thoughtfulness until all logical possibilities are exhaustively analyzed and a default judgment is entered through rational elimination of available options; of basing it all upon an “instinct” or a desire; of randomly choosing based upon the belief that — as the universe itself is arbitrary and capricious, so should all matters be decided in a parallel fashion; of considering the alternatives and eliminating them based upon a gut-feeling; and multiple other nonconformist manners, often combining a multitude of various methodologies — if in fact one can even refer to “madness” as a method.

Regardless — whether of one method or another — there comes a “time” to decide, and that time is often relevant based upon additional factors to take into consideration: Others are dependent upon your decision; there is a time-limit on making a decision; certain contingencies have occurred which require a decision to be made; or, to simply let outside circumstances dictate the decision by deciding to engage in the act of a non-decision.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are struggling with the decision of whether to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the question of “timing” is often decided by the extent and severity of the ongoing medical condition itself.  The anomaly of when is the “right time” is often offset by circumstances beyond one’s control: of actions perpetrated by the Agency; of the worsening of one’s medical condition; of the exhaustion of FMLA, SL and AL and the denial of extending one’s LWOP status; and the combination of any or all of the complex interaction of pressures and stresses which impact perfect timing.

Time is an artifice of relative events; often, there is no such thing as “perfect timing”; but what we do know is that there is a time to decide, and that time is when a Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

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

 

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