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

 

OPM Medical Retirement under FERS: Appropriateness

How does one learn it, and if one never recognizes its opposite — inappropriateness — does that then shield one from recognition of its negative consequences?  Is it the suddenly silence of the room, the averted eyes of those around, or the pink flush of a blush that suddenly tells of the inappropriateness of what was said, or done?  But what of its antonym — do we learn only when someone else says, “Yes, yes, quite appropriate“, and if so, how did that person learn what was or wasn’t?

Is appropriateness merely a human convention, an artificial construct that allows for a mindless continuum that barely retains its relevance beyond the insularity of a self-contained characteristic?

For federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal employee is under FER05S, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the appropriateness of what to include in a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is often a question of discretion and experience.

What evidence, beyond the obvious medical evidence, can and should be filed?  What should be included in one’s Statement of Disability as required on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability?  How much personal information, historical facts and background data should be “appropriately” included in the Applicant’s Statement of Disability?  Should family members, friends or coworkers provide a statement, as well, and is it “appropriate” to do so?

In the end, appropriateness is a concept that should be tailored by the context of the action, and it might be a good idea to consult with an experienced attorney before preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, as such a consultation would certainly constitute an appropriateness under the circumstances, and may well be inappropriate to fail to do so.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement under FERS & CSRS: The character of each day

What does the day bring?  Do we awaken, put our finger up to the winds of time or the breeze of the day and ask that question before getting up, dressing and opening the door into a world beyond that may or may not fulfill the promises we believe to be granted?  Or, regardless of the indications, the barometers that forewarn or the compass that fails to direct, do we nevertheless move forward and tackle the challenges faced or otherwise deliberately and willfully avoid?

Does it make a difference, in an “objective” sense, whether we consult the horoscope or check the biodynamic calendar to see if it is an “unfortunate” day to engage in this or that activity; or to stay away from groups of people identified by certain signs or symptoms, revealed or otherwise concealed?

What determines the character of each day – the world at large, the elements within, of the person who steps out into the world?  Or, like the old puzzle that even the Sphinx could not answer, is it by genetic dominance, predetermination and the innate structure of our DNA, or the environment that one is brought up in that forms and conforms the individual personality, content and essence of an individual?

It is always interesting to observe the ritualistic tendencies of each individual that one engages in before battling the turmoil of the day’s challenges; whether one exercises before or after; does eating a meal energize or bloat; are there superstitions embraced before the car door is opened and shut and the engine of time begins the day; these and more determine the character, for many, of each day.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who must by necessity battle with the medical condition unasked for, unsolicited and without regard to a choice of superstitions allowed, the character of each day has already been somewhat determined.  The only question remaining is, can you endure the harassment from the job, the lack of respect and the constant undermining of accommodations requested by forging forward despite the lack of character in others already shown each day, or is it time to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset?

Sometimes, the character of the each day is determined not so much by the content of one’s own inner strength, but by the lack thereof in others, and that is something that you cannot do anything about except to “move on” and leave behind the Federal agency or the Postal facility that fails to show any character at all, each day or any day.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: Graven Images and Craven Homages

One concerns religious restrictions; the other, human tendencies emanating from deeply rooted psychological fears.  Both constitute acts which reflect a trepidation of purpose, and an anthropological study of human frailty.  The Commandment against graven images protects one to respect the sanctity of a singular teleological focus; homage by craven impulse, on the other hand, reveals the continuing connection to an enslaved state of mind, albeit one which may merely be emotionally binding and unfettered by physical force or threat of force.

Both make us pause; and question:  Do we continue to do this out of fear, and fear of what?  How much of human action — or inaction — is engaged in because of fear; fear of the unknown future; timidity of change; cowardly hesitation because change from the status quo may force one to alter the comforting monotony of daily routines.  Explicit adherence and unwavering allegiance to dictates of religious imperatives have conceptual distinctions to be recognized from mere secular responses growing out of a primordial foundation of fear; but still the question becomes, How does one define an image, and what are the borders which constrain that which is offensive?

Medical conditions tend to startle us from the quietude of daily repetition in life.  We tend to become even more religious in our adherence to routine, when the comfort of monotony is preferable to the conundrum of disarray.  But how much homage must one pay to one’s agency, or the U.S. Postal Service, before one’s soul has been desecrated by a blind fealty to the master of one’s employment destiny, where we begin to violate the commandment against graven images?

Medical conditions deplete and debilitate; in such a weakened state, we become even more vulnerable to the power of the agency and the harassing vitriol spewed by the U.S. Postal Service managers and supervisors.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management allows for a separation from the vestiges of foregone fealties.  It is a termination from the consoling state of known quantities; but one which may ultimately have to be done in order to save one’s soul.  So long as one remains in the state of enslaved vulnerability, of being turned and twisted by one’s agency or the U.S. Postal Service, there is always the serious concern of the exacerbation of one’s condition, either because of the stress or hostility of complicating one’s medical conditions.

Federal Disability Retirement may not be the be-all and end-all solution for all Federal or Postal employees, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset; but it is a step towards cutting the ties which bind, and which force us to pay craven homage or maintain graven images for fealty to a juggernaut which neither cares nor, in the end, consoles our souls.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire