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

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Reality and poetry

A woman sits on a park bench surrounded by the concrete giants of looming buildings and antiseptic structures overhanging and overshadowing all but the remnants of nature’s detritus, with the cooing pigeons that bob their heads back and forth as they meander about in the contrast between reality and poetry.

And she has a book in her hands.  It is a book of poetry.  Who the author is; what the verses metaphorically narrate; how the images impact the quiet reader; these are not so important as the oxymoron of life’s misgivings:  A city; the overwhelming coercion of modernity’s dominance and encroachment into nature’s receding and dying reserve; and what we hang on to is a book of poetry that reminds us that beauty is now relegated to printed pages of verses that attempt to remind of beauty now forever lost.

No, let us not romanticize the allegory of a past life never existent, such as Rousseau’s “state of nature” where man in a skimpy loincloth walks about communing with nature’s resolve; instead, the reality that man has lost any connection to his surroundings, and is now lost forever in the virtual world of smartphones, computers, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Texting.

The tactile experiences of our individual encounters with the objective world is now merely the touch of a screen, and feel of glass, metal and plastic, and the pigeons we feed with such joy and excitement from park-benches manufactured with recycled materials so that we can “feel good” about the environment that we have abandoned.  And so we are left with the reality of our lives, and the poetry that we always try and bring into it, if not merely to remind us that there is more to it all than work, weekends and fleeting thoughts of wayward moments.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from an additional reality – of a medical condition that impacts his or her life in significant ways – the third component is not a mere irrelevancy that complicates, but often becomes the focal point of joining both reality and poetry.  Medical conditions have the disturbing element of reminding us of priorities in life.  Reality, as we often experience it, is to merely live, make a living, survive and continue in the repetitive monotony of somehow reaching the proverbial “end” – retirement, nursing home, sickness and death.

Poetry is what allows for the suffering of reality to be manageable and somehow tolerable; it is not just a verse in a book or a line that rhymes, but the enjoyment of moments with loved ones and those times when everything else becomes “worthwhile” because of it.  But then, there is the complication of a medical condition – that which jolts us into wakefulness of a reality that makes it painful and unacceptable.  What is the road forth?

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition now makes even work at the Federal agency or Postal facility intolerable, preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application is at least a path to be considered.  It is a long, arduous and difficult road that must wind its way through the U.S. Office or Personnel Management, but the choices are limited, and surely, you never want to abandon the poetry of life, and be left with only the reality of the medical condition?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Postal & Federal Employee Disability Retirement Benefits: When Curiosity Fades

It is that compelling feature for animals and humans alike (if one is to make a distinction between the two); of an innate sense for the extraordinary, and a need to figure out change, reveal the hidden vortex of anomalies, and uncover the mystery behind the curtain.  Shakespeare made reference to the known proverb in Much Ado about Nothing, and it was originally meant as a forewarning for those who meddle in other’s affairs; but it is curiosity, indeed, which maintains an evolutionary compulsion to strive forth, to manifest life and liveliness in the face of dull acceptance and loss of inherent inquisitiveness.

When other concerns begin to intersect and overtake, is when such features meant to enhance survivability and adaption begin to diminish.  Life and its exhaustive characteristics, especially in modernity, can result in the uncharacteristic feature of disinterest and dismay.  Whether the medical condition portends first, or the sense of abandonment in prefatory congealment, the fact is that life and its inherent stresses can be like a weight of seemingly insurmountable burdens crushing in its suffocating pervasiveness.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, the heightened stress imposed by increasing steps of adverse actions, punitive measures and letters threatening discipline and termination, can be daunting and devastating.  Dealing with a medical condition itself can be a full-time endeavor, and can sap the life, energy and reserve of vitality for even the strongest of individuals.

When the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, it is time to take stock and inventory of one’s choices, which are normally limited to three:  (A)  Stay with the agency or the U.S. Postal Service, and allow for the progressive diminution of that peculiar trait called curiosity for life, (B) Wait for the adverse actions to increase in systematic advancement of punitive impositions, or (C) Begin the process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal or Postal Medical Retirement.

The shell of a man did not become so in one fell swoop; rather, by incremental destruction, like a child taking apart a completed puzzle piece by piece.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the first step towards regaining a piece of one’s sanity, one’s physical well-being, and one’s “wholeness” of being a human being; and contrary to the common perspective that curiosity killed the cat, it is almost always the exact opposite:  it is the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service which kills curiosity, which is the underlying force and beauty of a life worth living.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement Law: Sifting

Life requires sifting through a sieve; otherwise, the unwanted and undesirable particles of coarseness and garbage will become part and parcel of the component of one’s daily living.

Have you ever watched how the screen picks up, prevents and protects against intruding contaminants attempting to interlope?  How dust sticks to likeness and filth collects upon kindred spirits?  Are we talking about particles and contaminants — or of humans by analogy and metaphor?  Those descriptions which fit the picture frame of sifting screens can certainly apply to life’s encounter with fellow humans; how we change filters, when, and to what degree, applies to human interaction, as well.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who engage the bureaucratic process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement through one’s agency, and ultimately with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, there is often a metaphorical sifting process which applies beyond changing the filter of one’s heating and cooling system.

It involves the prioritizing of important and significant issues; of whether work should prevail over health; of recognizing true friends and colleagues, of those who show loyalty beyond one’s contribution to the workforce and reveal an empathetic soul when needed; of securing future needs and differentiating between that which is necessary as opposed to sufficient; and in the end, of crystallizing human relationships, where the refractory nature of family, friendships and filial fondness may flower with a collage of hues and colors bending with the corridors of time.

Does all of that occur with merely filing for Federal Disability Retirement?  It is a difficult process, evolving through the origination of a medical condition, and it is often the time when triumph treasures the tragedy of origins, and where sifting of life’s undesirable particles begins.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire