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 & Postal Disability Retirement Help: Caught in the world in-between

It is a purgatory of sorts; of the netherworld where twilight is a constancy of confusion, and when neither dawn nor dusk, between summer and winter, or of cognitive clarity and conundrums of confusion reach the pinnacle of an infinite maze.  Do we prefer clarity to confusion, or the light of dawn to a period “just before”, when consciousness of thought is suppressed or prevented by a darkness befalling thoughtful perspectives impeded by streams of dancing oracles upon a seamless stupor?

It is often uncertainty which tires the soul.  For, while wealth is preferable to destitution, and employment to its opposite, it is being caught “in-between” which engenders uncertainty and angst of future plans, and that is likened to a form of hell.

When a Federal employee or a U.S. Postal worker first learns of a medical condition — whether from an accident or injury on the job, or during a foray into uncharted recreational activities, it matters not for purposes of meeting the criteria for eligibility in a Federal Disability Retirement application submitted through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — the weariness of time and the toll of uncertainty is often worse than the failure of resolution encountered through therapy, medication regimens, surgical intervention and the long delays in recuperation and rehabilitation.

It is that “waiting” which becomes the agony of life, for the questioning and incessant pondering resulting therefrom haunts the soul:  What will the future hold?  What will my job do?  What are they planning?  The “what”, the “when” and the ultimate “why” becomes a reverberating echo of repetitive songs unwavering in their monotony of questions forever unanswered.  For, it is the unanswered question and the unstated discretion of silence which makes for waiting to be just another agony of life’s challenges.

To be caught in the world “in-between”, where future plans are delayed because the present remains in a muddle of soft mush, and when past actions fail to concretize a pathway for mapping current stability, is a state of existence which is tantamount to a purgatory of eternal uncertainty.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, it is thus important to take some action and begin the process of filing for Federal OPM Disability Retirement.  Wishful thinking will not make the medical condition go away; and while hope is always a basis for future planning, one often knows early on, within the core of one’s soul, whether the injury or medical condition which prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing the essential elements of one’s positional duties will resolve to an extent possible in order to return to full duty.

It is not knowing which is the true hell of existence; and to remain caught in the world in-between is often a choice — albeit a bad one — which is based not upon want of certainty, but enmeshed in the essence of human tragedy, when delay prevented that split-second decision that could have avoided the disaster.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: The Categorical Imperative

It is, of course, the foundation of Kant’s moral philosophy; of the unconditional call to act in a certain way, accepted and mandated precisely because there is no room for question.  But that life were so easy; automatons would simply act in mechanistic ways, driven by moral certitude; free will could be determined by the comforting thought that universal codes of conduct shall always confine and direct.  And bureaucracies would always make decisions within a framework of computational algorithms.

But Federal Disability Retirement is not a matter of a diagnosis; unlike Social Security Disability, which does contain a semblance of categorical imperatives when it comes to certain medical conditions, the preponderance of the proof needed in becoming eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is threefold: First, the minimum number of years under FERS (18 months of creditable Federal Service) or CSRS (5 years, which is presumably already met by everyone in that retirement system); Second, a medical condition which came into existence during the time of Federal Service (with some arguable exceptions within one (1) year of being separated from Federal Service); and Third, a nexus of relevant impact between one’s medical condition and the essential elements of one’s positional duties one performs for the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

It is this third step in the process which effectively compels one to step outside of the identification of Federal Disability Retirement laws as containing an element of the categorical imperative; for, in the end, it is not simply an evaluation of “which category” one falls into, but rather, how significant and persuasive is the bridge built upon between the two primary land masses:  one’s medical condition (land mass #1) and the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job (land mass #2).

That metaphorical “bridge” must be constructed with care, clarity, and concrete argumentation of persuasive force in order to withstand the inspecting scrutiny of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Look upon it as if OPM is walking through the construction site with a hard hat, pen in hand and taking notes furiously in attempting to discover deficiencies in the qualification standards imposed.  Jumping up and down and screaming at the inspector that the bridge fits into a pre-defined category will not suffice; instead, the categorical imperative must be argued for by pointing to the medical evidence, the law, and the connective tissues which form the effective and persuasive confluence of all of the elements which comprise the ultimate imperative of life:  that of a methodology of argumentation that one is “right”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire